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COURTSIDE: More Indictees Surrender

Serbs accused of crimes in Croatia among new batch of indictees to hand themselves in to The Hague.
By Mirko Klarin

Three more Hague suspects surrendered voluntarily to The Hague last week, bringing the number of inmates at the UN detention unit to 46, not including eight who have been provisionally released pending the start of their trials.


Mile Mrksic and Milan Martic led the new batch on Wednesday. Both are accused of crimes committed in Croatia in 1991 and 1995.


Mrksic, a retired former JNA general together with Veselin Sljivancanin and Miroslav Radic, is one of the infamous "Vukovar trio", blamed for the killing of more than 200 patients taken from the town's hospital in November 1991 and executed at a nearby farm.


One day after surrendering, Mrksic pleaded not guilty to all six counts on the "Vukovar indictment" brought in November 1995. His defense, the Belgrade attorney Miroslav Vasic, said he is to seek provisional release of the accused next week. Mrksic underwent heart surgery just before coming to The Hague and needs "rehabilitation", he said.


Martic was once president of the Republika Srpska Krajina, the self-proclaimed Serbian state in Croatia, centred on Knin. Martic is accused of ordering rocket attacks on Zagreb in May 1995, in which a large number of civilians were killed and wounded. He entered a non-guilty plea on Tuesday May 21.


Dusan "Duca" Knezevic arrived on Saturday, not from Belgrade, but Banja Luka in Republika Srpska, where he surrendered to tribunal representatives. Knezevic, a waiter before the war, is charged with murder, torture, rape and beating detainees at the Omarska and Keraterm camps in the summer of 1992.


In both indictments for these notorious camps in the Prijedor area of north-west Bosnia, it's said Knezevic was not a guard in either but "on many occasions" entered them "with the intention of mistreating, beating, torturing and killing the detainees".


Next week, Knezevic will enter his plea over the 46 counts he is charged with in both indictments, which include crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the law or customs of war.


His arrival completes the indictment for Keraterm, because the other two accused, Predrag Banovic and Dusan Fustar, are already in the detention unit, so that the trial over the crimes committed in the camp can now begin.


However, as Knezevic is also implicated in crimes committed in Omarska, the prosecution will probably seek a joint trial for both camps. Momcilo Gruban, accused of similar crimes, is already in the cell unit after surrendering two weeks ago. Only the camp's former commander, Zeljko Meakic, is still at large. The prosecution hopes he will arrive before the joint trial starts.


Mirko Klarin is IWPR senior editor at the war crimes tribunal and editor-in-chief of SENSE News Agency.


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