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Bosnian authorities arrest three war crimes suspects indicted by UN tribunal

Bosnian authorities arrest three war crimes suspects indicted by UN tribunal

The authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina have arrested three former military men indicted by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for crimes committed in central Bosnia between January 1993 and January 1994, the United Nations war crimes court announced today.

In a statement issued at its headquarters in The Hague, the Tribunal said three former commanders of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina - General Enver Hadzihasanovic, General Mehmed Alagic and Colonel Amir Kubura - had been arrested yesterday based on an indictment by the Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.

The accused are charged with violations of the laws and customs of war and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including murders, wilful killings, violence to life and person, wilfully causing great suffering, inhumane treatment, unlawful confinement, wanton destruction and other serious crimes.

The accused are charged on the basis of their command responsibility within the terms of Article 7(3) of the Tribunal's Statute. Their crimes fall into three categories: executions and massacres following attacks on towns and villages; crimes carried out in detention facilities involving killings, beatings, physical and psychological abuse and the use of detainees as both hostages and human shields; and systematic plunder and destruction of areas that were occupied by the Bosnian Army's 3rd Corps where the accused had held senior positions. The victims were predominately Bosnian Croat prisoners of war and civilians.

According to the Tribunal, one of the main features of the indictment is that most of the crimes, and in particular the most heinous ones, were said to have been committed by foreign Muslim fighters who referred to themselves as "Mujahedin" or "Holy Warriors."

Following the 13 July confirmation of the indictment, which was kept confidential pending the arrest of the accused, warrants for the arrest of the three men were forwarded to the relevant authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. It is expected that arrangements will now be made to transfer the three men to The Hague, the Tribunal said.