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War Crimes Suspects Said in Kosovo

April 14, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Two men suspected of war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia are now involved in Yugoslavia’s oppression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Britain’s defense secretary said Wednesday.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime has recruited Gen. Ratko Mladic and paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic, also known as Arkan, to command and supply units responsible for ``massacring and raping″ thousands of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Defense Secretary George Robertson told reporters.

Robertson said that Arkan, whose Tiger commandos were active during the Croatian and Bosnian wars, stands indicted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague in the 1991 massacre of 250 men taken from a hospital in Vukovar during Croatia’s war for independence from Yugoslavia.

Although the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, has previously acknowledged Arkan’s indictment, no detail on the actual charges had been released before now.

``We have further evidence that Arkan is recruiting volunteers for his paramilitary unit, the Tigers,″ Robertson said. ``We understand that he’s even been scouring prisons in Serbia, offering pardons to anyone prepared to join the Tigers.″

The defense chief said that Mladic, whom he noted was accused of involvement in the slaughter of thousands of men in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, is now commanding a gang of paramilitaries in Kosovo.

``Of course, we cannot know definitively what is going on inside Kosovo today, because it is closed off to those who might give independent evidence, but you only have to listen to the refugees,″ he later told the British Broadcasting Corp. in a radio interview.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons on Wednesday that NATO peacekeeping troops could be sent into Kosovo without the agreement of the Yugoslav government, if Serb resistance on the ground had effectively ended.

But he reiterated that NATO had no plans to launch a ground war against the military and police forces in Kosovo, a province in Yugoslavia’s dominant republic, Serbia.

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