Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ex-Yugoslavian general agrees to turn himself in / He's wanted by the U.N. tribunal in connection with Kosovo atrocities


BELGRADE, SERBIA-MONTENEGRO - A former Yugoslav army chief wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal agreed Friday to surrender to the Netherlands-based court, the Serbian government said.

Retired Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, wanted for atrocities committed during the 1998-99 Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, decided to give himself up voluntarily, a Cabinet statement said.

It quoted Pavkovic as saying he would go to The Hague tribunal as an "honorable soldier who has devoted his life and honor to his country."

The Serbian government has faced mounting pressure to extradite all war crimes fugitives to the U.N. court in order to build closer ties to the European Union and NATO.

The government gave no details of Pavkovic's current whereabouts or where he had been since going into hiding last month, when he failed to answer a summons to appear before a Belgrade court as one of several suspects charged in the attempted assassination of a leading Serbian opposition figure in 2000.

He was to travel to the Netherlands on Monday, accompanied by a government minister and a physician from the Belgrade military hospital that treated him on several occasions over the past years.

Pavkovic's lawyer, Ljubisa Zivadinovic, said his client had given an affidavit announcing his surrender.

Pavkovic, who commanded Yugoslav army units in Kosovo, was a close ally of former President Slobodan Milosevic.

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