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NATO Busts Serb Colonel

NATO-led peacekeepers on Friday arrested a Bosnian Serb army colonel who commanded a corps operating in eastern Bosnia during the 1992-5 war, the interior ministry said.

"The Serb Republic's Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic was arrested this morning in the Banja Luka public security area zone," said Bosnian Serb Deputy Interior Minister Zeljko Janjetovic.

The Bosnian Serb army headquarters confirmed the arrest, saying it was carried out by British troops serving with the 20,000-strong SFOR force, but SFOR itself declined to comment.

Blagojevic was the head of the engineering section of the Bosnian Serb army's Drina corps, which operated in eastern Bosnia and was also involved in military actions in the former U.N. safe zone of Srebrenica.

Blagojevic is believed to be have been charged under a sealed indictment from the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague relating to crimes committed in Srebrenica.

The tribunal last week convicted a Bosnian Serb general for genocide in the Srebrenica incident, the first genocide conviction in Europe since the Nuremburg trials after World War II.

Click here for more on the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic, who claimed the deaths were battle casualties and that he had been unable to stop the mass killings, was sentenced to 46 years in prison. His lawyers vowed an appeal.

The Srebrenica massacre was the greatest single horror of the Bosnian war, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth. The Serbs captured the town, a U.N.-designated "safe haven," in July of 1995 and deported 25,000 women and children. But up to 8,000 men over the age of 13, under the watch of Krstic, then a local commander, were shot and dumped in mass graves.

Also last week, two Muslim generals and a colonel were charged with responsibility for the execution of civilians and war prisoners, for using hostages as human shields under fire, and for the pillaging and destruction of towns and villages in 1993.

Mehmed Alagic, 54, and Enver Hadzihasanovic, 51 — both former generals — are the highest-ranking Muslims so far to be arrested on war crimes charges. Amir Kubura, 37, a senior officer, also was arrested.

The Accused
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, create by the United Nations Security Council in 1993, is located in the Hague Netherlands and consists of judges from 14 countries, including the United States.

It has indicted more than 100 people on charges including breaching the Geneva Conventions, violating the customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Forty-three indictees detained, three are out on provisional release and 26 are at large.

Twenty-four have proceedings go on now.

Twenty-two have been found guilty, two have been acquitted, three have died and charges against three have been withdrawn.

  • Read the indictment against Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Most of the serious crimes were committed by foreign Muslim volunteers who joined the Bosnians in what they called a jihad, or holy war, and who branded themselves mujahedeen, or freedom fighters, the tribunal said.

    The 19-count indictment charged the three officers with failing to prevent men under their command from committing atrocities that they knew, or should have known, were about to happen.

    It did not accuse any of them of personally committing or ordering specific illegal actions, but said all three were experienced and professional officers accustomed to military command and discipline.

    The indictment and arrest of senior Muslim officers, and the tribunal's first genocide verdict, were the latest indications of the growing influence and acceptance of the tribunal's authority in the former Yugoslavia, especially after the surrender of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in June.

    The U.N. court was established in 1993 to punish those responsible for atrocities during the break-up of Yugoslavia that began in 1991.

    Most of the more than 100 suspects indicted by the tribunal, created in 1993 to prosecute war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, are Serbs. Three Muslims have stood trial so far. One was acquitted and two convicted.

    Following the Krstic verdict, the tribunal reissued its call for the capture and surrender of the two most wanted war crimes suspects still at large, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his top general Ratko Mladic.

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