CEOL - SFOR accuses Croatia of interfering in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Dec 18, 1999 -- (Reuters) The NATO-led stabilization force in Bosnia said on Friday a recent raid on a Croat area of the country found evidence of criminal and illegal activities by Croatian and Bosnian Croat security services within Bosnia.

The Stabilization Force (SFOR) said it seized illegal weapons, ammunition and explosives, as well as computer software and hardware that could be used to forge identity documents and telephone and credit cards for use around the world.

"The material we have examined so far is only the tip of the iceberg," SFOR deputy commander Lieutenant-General Charles-Henri De Monchy told reporters.

"These planned or current activities aim to disrupt a safe and secure environment in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is the mandate of SFOR," he said.

"SFOR will provide the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina with materials appropriate for possible prosecution or further use."

He said a letter confiscated during the October 14 "Westar" operation in four buildings in the southern town of Mostar gave details of the structure and operations of the Zagreb-based Croat Hrvatska Izvjestajna Sluzba (HIS) security service in Bosnia.

A copy of one of the letters made available to reporters was allegedly signed by HIS director Miroslav Tudjman and sent to Franjo Tudjman, his late father and president of Croatia who died earlier this month.

It allegedly lists names of several officials in the Bosnian branch of the HIS, as well as the names and tasks of agents working for HIS in Russia and in The Hague, where the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is based.

Zagreb has acted as a patron of Bosnian Croats during and after Bosnia's 1992-95 war. And despite pledges to help the establishment of the 1994-brokered Moslem-Croat federation, it continued supporting Bosnian Croat self-styled institutions.

SPYING ON PEACE OFFICIALS

Another draft letter confiscated in the operation was a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between HIS and the Bosnia Croat security agency Sluzba Nacionalne Sigurnosti (SNS), de Monchy said.

Other seized documents reveal details of four SNS surveillance operations aimed at local and ex-patriot staff of international organisations and agencies involved in Bosnia's four-year-old peace process, he said.

One of the operations - codename Puma - "was specifically set up by the SNS to frustrate the work of the ICTY", he added.

The operation started last September and had as its targets some 30 ICTY investigators who were to conduct interviews in the southwestern town of Livno with individuals allegedly involved in war crimes, De Monchy said.

"Such an operation, clearly designed to frustrate the work of the ICTY, breaches the constitution of Bosnia," he said.

"(We) find the espionage activities carried against our personnel to be outrageous and inexcusable and we hope that those who are responsible for ordering this things are held accountable," U.N. spokesman Doug Coffman told Reuters.

In London, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the evidence "appears to provide irrefutable evidence of repeated and on-going efforts by the Croatian authorities to subvert the peace that has been built in Bosnia".

He added the material "leaves us no doubt that there has been organized resistance to the Dayton Agreement (that ended the Bosnian war) at the highest levels in Zagreb".

De Monchy said other operations planned by the SNS - codename Thunder, Lightning and Panther - and possibly still continuing, targeted the staff in the international agencies including SFOR with the aim of collecting intelligence or recruiting informants.

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