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Tribunal Issues First Indictments for War Crimes Against Serbs

March 22, 1996

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ An international tribunal issued the first indictments today for war crimes allegedly committed against Bosnian Serbs.

Three of those indicted are Bosnian Muslims, the first to be charged by prosecutors at the U.N. war crimes court. The indictments are likely to blunt criticism that the court is biased against Serbs.

Zejnil Delalic, a former Bosnian government army officer, was indicted because of his authority over guards accused of murdering, raping and torturing Bosnian Serbs at a prison camp in central Bosnia in 1992, according to tribunal documents.

Also indicted today were Zdravko Mucic, a Croat identified by the tribunal as the commander of the Celebici camp, deputy commander Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo, a guard.

Delalic was Commander of the First Tactical Group of Bosnian Muslim forces from June until November 1992, according to the indictment. That position gave him military authority over Konjic, the central Bosnian region where the camp was located.

Delalic, Mucic and Delic are charged with at least 14 murders allegedly committed by their subordinates. Delic was also charged with personally committing four murders and Landzo, five.

Tribunal spokesman Christian Chartier said the three are Muslims.

The 14-page, 49-count indictment covering all four suspects details a horrendous litany of torture and murder at the camp, including men being burned with heated knives, having their tongues and ears seared with hot pliers and the repeated rape of women inmates.

In one incident, Delic and Landzo allegedly beat to death a man, nailing an SDA badge to his head before the elderly victim died. SDA is the acronym for the Party of Democratic Action, the ruling Muslim party in Bosnia.

Another man was beaten with a bat and pieces of cable by Delic and Landzo before being tortured with pliers, lit fuses and nails, the indictment claims. The victim died after days of abuse.

One woman, referred to in the indictment only as Witness A ``suffered repeated incidents of forcible sexual intercourse.″

Of the 53 suspects indicted before today’s announcement, 46 were Serbs and seven were Croats.

The announcement raises to 57 the number of war crimes suspects indicted by the U.N. court. Only two are in tribunal custody: Bosnian Serbs Dusan Tadic and Gen. Djordje Djukic await trial in the tribunal’s Hague cell block.

Delalic and Mucic are in custody in Austria and Germany, respectively, where they were arrested on Tuesday. They have not yet been extradited to The Hague.

Chartier said that Delic and Landzo are still at large and believed to be in the Konjic area. Bosnian authorities have pledged to arrest both men and hand them over for trial.

Until this week, all war crimes suspects in custody had been arrested before being formally indicted by the tribunal. But the tribunal said earlier today that a Bosnian Serb arrested this week in Germany had already been indicted for atrocities at the notorious Serb-run Keraterm camp in 1992.

Goran Lajic, 28, was arrested Monday by German police near Nuremberg and will be handed to the court ``in coming weeks,″ Chartier said.

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