Bosnian Serb Plan for New Police Force Revives Wartime Fears

There were 400 reservist police officers in Visegrad before the war, and the force was multi-ethnic. However, as the conflict began, 183 more officers were recruited by the Serb-run police station in the town.

A number of them had criminal records, said Huso Kurspahic, the former commander of the police station in Medjedja, near Visegrad.

"All the criminals from Serbia, including [Hague Tribunal war crimes convict] Milan Lukic and others, were brought in. These men were the most dominant - the ones without character - and they are the ones that misused this reserve police force the most," Kurspahic said.

The Bosnian Serb authorities' wartime practice of employing criminals as reservist policemen has been acknowledged by several Hague Tribunal judgments, including the ones convicting Lukic, former Republika Srpska police minister Mico Stanisic and former Republika Srpska parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik.

Marko Attila Hoare, a historian who testified as an expert witness at the Hague Tribunal, told BIRN that recruiting people with criminal records was intentional.

"The police forces of Republika Srpska were turned into an instrument for waging war against civilians. So it was very important to have criminal elements who were ready to behave in a brutal criminal way against civilians, against their former neighbours," Hoare said.

Mile Matijevic, a professor of security issues at Banja Luka University and Eastern Sarajevo University, also said there was "major irregularity" in the recruitment of reservist officers at the beginning of the armed conflict.

"The irregularity was reflected in the uncontrolled admissions of reservist police officers [to the force], starting with their qualifications and their eligibility, so...

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