Serb war crimes suspect arrested

Stojan Zupljanin, a Serb wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal, arrested near Belgrade.

    A convoy of police vehicles transports Zupljanin through the Serbian capital Belgrade [AFP] 
    Three other war crime suspects, Radovan Karadzic, his military commander Ratko Mladic, and Goran Hadzic, the war time president of the self-proclaimed Serb republic of Krajina in Croatia, are still at large.
     
    Extradition plans
     
    Zupljanin was found at an apartment about 8km from the centre of Belgrade and was to be taken before an investigative judge at the war crimes court in Belgrade before being extradited.

    "The arrest confirms
    what the prosecutors of this trial have been saying for a long time now, that the fugitives are within the reach of Serbia"


    Olga Kavran,  spokeswoman for the war crimes tribunal prosecutor's office

    "Police and security agents took part in the operation. He should be extradited to the Hague in the next 72 hours," Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for Serbia's special war crimes prosecutor, said.
     
    Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia's chief war crimes prosecutor, who co-ordinated the operation, said: "There was no resistance during his arrest. "This arrest shows clearly that we are seriously co-operating [with The Hague] and there is the political will for full co-operation."
     
    Officials said Zupljanin had foiled a previous attempt to arrest him in the southern Serbian city of Nis two months ago.
     
    His family had publicly called on him to surrender to spare them embarrassment and financial collapse, as all their assets were frozen. 

    Olga Kavran, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office of the war crimes tribunal, said the capture of Zupljanin was a positive development.

     

    "The arrest confirms what the prosecutors of this trial have been saying for a long time now, that the fugitives are within the reach of Serbia," she said. 

     

    "It also demonstrates that Serbia is capable of arresting them so we hope that this could mean some steps closer to the arrest and surrender of the remaining three."

     
    Military  commander
     
    Zupljanin, a commander in the city of Banja Luka during the 1992-95 Bosnia war, is charged with killing Muslim and Croat civilians and his arrest was welcomed in Bosnia.
     

    Zupljanin has been charged with genocide,
    crimes against humanity, murder and torture

    "[He] has been accused of killings, torture, persecution, extermination and other horrid crimes against civilian population in western Bosnia, and his arrest represents a move in the right direction," Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, said.
     
    The arrest and handover of war crimes has been a condition for Serbia's advancement towards membership of the European Union, which welcomed the arrest on Wednesday.
     
    "It is an important step towards full co-operation with [the tribunal], which is key to bringing justice and lasting reconciliation in the Western Balkans region," Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, said in a statement.
     
    Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, also welcomed the news.

    "To have the people who have been prosecuted, arrested and being placed in front of an international tribunal, having a fair trial, is something that is beneficial for everybody," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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