Bosnian state police arrest former Bosnian Serb President

Bosnian state police supported by the European Union peace force on Tuesday arrested a former Bosnian Serb President, Mirko Sarovic, officials said. EU peacekeepers in the Bosnian capital said the raid on Sarovic's home in a Serb-controlled neighborhood was carried out in support of Bosnia's central law enforcement agency, known by its acronym SIPA. "Upon request from the Bosnian state prosecutor EUFOR, supported SIPA officers this morning in their operation to detain certain individuals. The operation was led and conducted by SIPA with EUFOR support," said Lt. Commander Jem Thomas, spokesman for the European force known as EUFOR.

"We have information that EUFOR apprehended Mirko Sarovic this morning in Lukavica," Bosnian Serb police spokesman Radovan Pejic told The Associated Press.

Pejic added that another Bosnian Serb, identified as Milorad Govedarica, also was detained by EUFOR.

In September an international auditor, Tobby Robinson said that millions of Bosnian marks had been embezzled from a bank accused of funneling money to wanted war crimes suspects, and that top officials from the ruling Bosnian Serb party connected to the bank could face charges.

Robinson at the time said evidence implicating several party leaders _ including former Bosnian President Mirko Sarovic and Dragan Kalinic, former speaker of the Bosnian Serb Parliament _ was turned over to the prosecutor.

In February Bosnia's top international administrator, British diplomat Paddy Ashdown, accused Sarovic of supporting Radovan Karadzic, an indicted war criminal who has been in hiding since the civil war ended 10 years ago.

Sarovic was among the 10 Bosnian Serbs whose assets were frozen in February. Ashdown also ordered that Sarovic be stripped of his post as vice president of the Serb Democratic Party that Karadzic founded in the early 1990s.

As the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Karadzic is accused of having masterminded _ together with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic _ Bosnia's 1992-95 war, which killed tens of thousands and left another 1.6 million people homeless.

Karadzic and his wartime military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, are the two most-wanted suspects sought by the U.N. court war crimes court based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Since his indictment for genocide in 1995, Karadzic has been on the run, presumably hiding somewhere deep in the mountains of Bosnia and surrounded by armed bodyguards. NATO and EUFOR have repeatedly failed to catch him and officials believe he has a strong network of supporters enabling him to avoid detention, reports the AP. I.L.

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