Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Top Bosnian Serb war criminal to surrender

WAR CRIMES The Serbian government says that a general charged in a 1995 massacre will give himself up to the UN war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands


A senior Bosnian Serb general indicted for genocide in the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica is to surrender to the UN war crimes tribunal, the Serbian government said.

Vinko Pandurevic, a top fugitive since the end of the 1992-95 war in neighboring Bosnia, will travel to the Netherlands tomorrow to give himself up to the UN court at The Hague, the government said in a statement on Sunday.

He will be the 10th Serb war crimes suspect to give himself up to the tribunal since October. Belgrade has been under intense international pressure to extradite about a dozen suspects still at large before the EU issues a report, expected in April, on whether the Balkan country could one day start membership negotiations.

Last week, the EU delayed membership talks with Croatia, saying that country had not done enough to extradite a top Croat suspect to the UN court.

Pandurevic, who commanded the Bosnian Serb army's so-called "Zvornik Brigade," was "persuaded to surrender voluntarily during talks with Serbian Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic," the statement said.

The Serbian government quoted Pandurevic as saying his decision to surrender was a result of a "desire to help his nation," and that it was in the "best interest of the state" for him to go.

Under wartime military commander General Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb troops, including Pandurevic's brigade, stormed the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, then a UN-protected area in Bosnia, in July 1995. The onslaught was followed by summary executions of Muslim men and boys in what became Europe's worst carnage since World War II.

The UN indictment against Pandurevic -- issued in 1998 and unsealed in 2001 -- charges him with eight counts of genocide, complicity to genocide, violations of the laws or customs of war and crimes against humanity.

It alleges that Pandurevic, 45, acted as a direct subordinate of Bosnian Serb army official General Radislav Krstic, who is now serving a 35-year prison term for aiding and abetting genocide at Srebrenica.

The indictment said Krstic and Pandurevic intended to "destroy a part of the Bosnian Muslim people as a national, ethnical or religious group."

After the war, Pandurevic became a member of the general staff of the Bosnian Serb army, but was relieved from that position in 1998, when he went into hiding.

The other suspects still at large are believed hiding in Serbia or the Serb enclave in neighboring Bosnia. The two most wanted fugitives are Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

A top government body for cooperation with The Hague court was to convene yesterday in Belgrade to consider ways to freeze the assets of Mladic and the other fugitives.

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