Friday, March 25, 2005

Serbian police general expected to surrender to UN war crimes court

A Serbian police general long wanted by the UN war crimes court in connection with war crimes during the Kosovo war is expected to surrender to the tribunal in The Hague next week, an official said here Friday.

Sreten Lukic, the number two of Serbian police whose indictment in 2003 infuriated the then Serbian government and triggered protests by thousands of Serbian police, must first undergo an operation, said the official in comments quoted by the Beta news agency.

"General Sreten Lukic could leave Thursday for The Hague following surgery on a blood vessel that will be performed in Belgrade Monday," said Zoran Loncar, a member of the state council for cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

He said the information came from one of Lukic's doctors, Miodrag Ostojic, who advised his patient to have the operation in Rotterdam though he refused.

Lukic is wanted, along with three other generals, for crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

The Serbian state prosecutor's office, meanwhile, said it had dropped its demand that Lukic's assets be frozen, in a statement Friday.

"Sreten Lukic was removed from the list of 13 people indicted by the ICTY whose assets the prosecutor asked be frozen," it said, because "he is not a fugitive and is in regular contact with judicial authorities."

Lukic had earlier refused to hand himself into the UN tribunal, but presented himself to a Serbia district court last year to receive formal notification of the UN indictment.

The three other generals indicted with Lukic are: Nebojsa Pavkovic, former chief of staff of the old Yugoslav army who has refused to surrender to The Hague tribunal; Vladimir Lazarevic, who commanded Yugoslav and Serbian forces in Kosovo and surrendered to the court on February 3; and former Serbian police general Vladimir DjorDjevic, who remains on the run.

Lazarevic is specifically charged over the January 1999 Racak massacre of some 45 ethnic Albanian civilians, an incident that helped trigger NATO's armed intervention to drive Serbian forces out of the province.

An estimated 800,000 Kosovo Albanians were driven from their homes during the war, when rebels from the province's ethnic Albanian majority fought for independence from Serbia.

No comments: