Over 600 illegal immigrants arrested in Bosnia

BRUSSELS, Jun 26, 2000 -- (AFP) Over 600 migrants have been arrested crossing the Croat-Muslim half of Bosnia over the last eighteen months on their way to Western Europe, an official told AFP on Monday.

More than 65 percent of the 601 would-be immigrants were Iranians and Turks, Nazif Dinarevic, spokesman for Bosnia Herzegovina's foreign ministry, said.

Nationals from these countries are allowed a three-month stay without a visa, but are arrested if they try to cross the border out of Bosnia.

Over the weekend a group of eleven Turks, including four children, were arrested near Orasje, a border crossing with Croatia in northeastern Bosnia.

Bosnian Television reported that they had planned to pay 1,500 German marks per adult and 1,000 marks per child for a guide to lead them out of the country. The guide did not appear and they were spotted by the border police and arrested.

The interior ministry is aware of at least four well-connected channels through which migrants reach developed countries, stopping over in Bosnia Herzegovina, Dinarevic said.

In most cases, the starting point is Sarajevo airport. Groups from Istanbul usually have a guide flying with them to Sarajevo, and a taxi is waiting to take them to Srebrenica (northeast), Velika Kladusa (west), Mostar (south) or Teslic (north) from where they start the last leg of their trip to western Europe.

Most illegal immigrants attempt to reach Croatia with the help of local organized crime groups from Bosnia and their personal vehicles, trucks with double bottoms or boats.

Original article