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Croats Arrest Bosnian Army Soldier for War Crimes

August 17, 1996

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) _ Croatian authorities have arrested a former Bosnian military attache and accused him of war crimes, according to the Interior Ministry.

The arrest announced Friday violates provisions of the Dayton peace accord and could strain relations between Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Together, they rule part of the former Yugoslavia and are trying to create a joint military force.

Mirsad Catic was taken into custody Aug. 10 in Istria, on the Border with Slovenia, and was handed over to judicial authorities in the Adriatic port town of Zadar, where he is awaiting trial, said ministry spokesman Slavko Rako. His wife said they were traveling through Croatia on their way from Germany to Sarajevo.

Catic served 12 years as an officer in the Yugoslav People’s Army, based in Zadar, the newspaper Oslobodjenje said. He left with the rank of major in 1991 and joined the Bosnian government army in the war against Bosnian Serbs. He was wounded during the war and later was appointed Bosnian military attache in Bonn, Germany.

The arrest violates the provisions of the Dayton peace accord and subsequent agreements, which only allow the arrest of war crimes suspects on lists cleared by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Bosnian Embassy in Zagreb issued an immediate protest.

A Bosnian Army statement on Friday praised Catic as an ``exceptional soldier ... who fought for Bosnians of all nationalities during the war.

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