Croatia indicts Tenarmy officers and rebel Serb leaders
Sat Feb 22, 8:54 AM ET
ZAGREB, Croatia - Ten former Yugoslav army officers and rebel Serb leaders — some already charged by the U.N. war crimes court — have been indicted for the deadly wartime shelling of the Croatian city of Vukovar, a district prosecutor said Saturday.
The prosecutor, Bozidar Pilic, said the 10 had been indicted with war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war, the state-run news agency HINA reported. The indictment was completed earlier this week following years of investigation, Pilic added.
Four of the 10 have been indicted for the wartime crimes in Croatia by the U.N. court in The Hague, Netherlands: ex-Yugoslav army officers Veselin Sljivancanin and Miroslav Radic; rebel Serb leader Mile Mrksic, and Vojislav Seselj, an ultranationalist leader from neighboring Serbia.
Pilic did not say why the prosecution launched the indictments against suspects already facing charges by The Hague court, which has precedence over the local judiciary. But the new charges are bound to be welcomed by many Croats, who blame the Serb leaders for atrocities committed during the war.
The indictment also includes former top Yugoslav army officers Veljko Kadijevic, Blagoje Adzic, Zivota Panic, Zvonko Jurjevic and Bozidar Stevanovic, and rebel Serb leader Goran Hadzic.
Sljivancanin and Radic, who are believed to be living in neighboring Serbia, remain at large eight years after The Hague court indicted them. Mrksic has surrendered and is awaiting trial, while Seselj plans to travel to The Hague on Monday.
The 10 are the highest-level Serb officials indicted in Croatia so far.
Thousands of Croats were killed and entire villages were leveled to the ground in a war that erupted when Croatian Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav army, rebelled after Croatia in 1991 declared independence from the former Yugoslavia.
Croats consider Vukovar, located near Croatia's eastern border with Serbia and Montenegro — the successor to Yugoslavia — a symbol of Serb wartime cruelty. The city was besieged and shelled for three months before falling to the Serbs, and more than 2,000 people were killed there.
Croatia has already tried dozens of Serbs for war crimes, but mainly low-key figures. Thousands of other Serbs who joined the rebels during the war were pardoned in 1996, following international pressure.