Bosnia and Herzegovina's ruling Democratic Action Party (SDA) has warned that the planned award of a Croatian medal to war crimes suspect Zlatan Mijo Jelic could further deteriorate relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Responding to the announcement that Jelic, wartime commander of a Bosnian Croat special police brigade, would receive a medal from Croatian President Zoran Milanovic at a ceremony in Knin on August 4 for his unit's contribution to the liberation of Croatia, the SDA issued a statement on Saturday warning that Jelic, a retired general, has been charged with war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Decorating such a person would be "contrary to European values," the party said.
The SDA said that the Croatian president must have been aware that Jelic had been indicted for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina five years ago, adding that the alleged war crimes were committed as part of a joint criminal enterprise involving persecution, abuse and murders of Bosniaks in the southern city of Mostar in 1993.
"Abusing his dual citizenship, Zlatan Mijo Jelic has escaped from Bosnia and Herzegovina to hide in Croatia and the least President Milanovic can do is to use his authority and powers to have Jelic extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Instead, Milanovic intends to decorate him, thus sending out a very bad message that he is still not ready to sincerely face the truth and start rebuilding trust. This act by the Croatian president will further strain the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina," the SDA said in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with whose leaders Milanovic had cooperated as the head of Croatia's SDP, also condemned the planned award of a medal to Jelic.