Gojko Jankovic, indicted by the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia, has decided to give himself up after being on the run for more than five years, the authorities in Belgrade said.

Jankovic, indicted in 1999, is the sixth Serb in less than two months to agree to face the UN tribunal amid mounting Western pressure on the authorities in Belgrade, as well as on the Serb part of Bosnia known as Republika Srpska, to extradite all men wanted for war crimes.

Serbia's conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has sought to avoid open arrests but has managed to coax a number of suspects to turn themselves in. Serbia's chances of joining the European Union and Nato hinge on cooperation with the UN court.

Terse statement

"Jankovic has made his decision to surrender to The Hague [court] to help his people and contribute to [Serbia's] fulfilment of international obligations," the terse government statement said.

Prime Minister Kostunica has
coaxed suspects to surrender

Jankovic is to go to the Netherlands this week, while Serbia awaits the so-called Feasibility Study from Brussels on the Balkan country's eligibility for possible EU membership.

"The latest surrender will additionally bring our country closer to a positive assessment" by the Feasibility Study, Rasim Ljajic, Serbia-Montenegro's top official for cooperation with The Hague tribunal, said.

"I expect that the trend of voluntary surrenders will continue ... that we will completely convince the international community that we do fulfil our international obligations," he added.

Suspects still free

The voluntary surrenders may not entirely satisfy the EU because top suspects, Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, remain at large.

Karadzic is presumed hiding in eastern Bosnia and Mladic in Serbia. The authorities there, however, insist that Mladic has fled elsewhere.

The UN prosecutors have charged Jankovic and several other Bosnian Serbs of ransacking or burning Muslim houses and apartments and rounding up and capturing Muslims in eastern Bosnia when war broke out in that former Yugoslav republic.

The particular charges against Jankovic and his group concern eastern Bosnia.

The indictment cites cases of violence against Bosnian Muslims, including a 1992 campaign, saying Serb forces separated the non-Serb men from the women and arbitrarily detained some of them.

"Muslim women, children and the elderly were detained in houses, apartments and motels in the town of Foca or in surrounding villages ... the women and girls had to live in intolerably unhygienic conditions and they were mistreated in many ways including, for many of them, being raped repeatedly."