Official: Suspects Should Give Up
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BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A senior official of the U.N. war crimes tribunal demanded Saturday that all high-profile war crimes suspects _ including Serbian President Milan Milutinovic _ surrender immediately.
Mathias Helmann, the head of The Hague, Netherlands-based U.N. court’s Belgrade office, told reporters in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad that the tribunal did not recognize ``immunity of any of indicted war crimes suspects, including Serbia’s president Milutinovic.″
Milutinovic, 60, president of the larger Yugoslav republic Serbia, has been indicted on charges he committed war crimes during the 1998-1999 Serb crackdown against rebellious ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. He was a close aide to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is on trial on war crime charges in The Hague.
Milutinovic, who is charged along with former army chief of staff Col. Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic and former Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, enjoys immunity from arrest and extradition until the end of 2002, when his term as president expires. The Belgrade government argues Milutinovic cannot surrender to The Hague before his term ends because it would prompt early presidential elections.
On Friday, Ojdanic pleaded innocent at the U.N. war crimes court to charges of murder and expulsion in Kosovo. He voluntarily surrendered Thursday.
Another top war crimes suspect, retired Col. Veselin Sljivancanin, who has been indicted for atrocities he allegedly committed 1991 in Croatia, told the Vesti daily that he has ``absolutely no intention of surrendering″ to the U.N. court.
``I have not committed any crimes and I will not surrender to The Hague Tribunal even at the cost of my life,″ Sljivancanin was quoted as saying by Saturday’s issue of Vesti. The Serb-language daily is published in Frankfurt, Germany.