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Bosnia War Crimes Suspect Kills Self

October 13, 2000

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ A war crimes suspect resisting arrest in Bosnia detonated a hand grenade that killed himself and wounded four German soldiers of the NATO-led peace force, NATO and the war crimes tribunal said Friday.

Janko Janjic, 43, ignited the grenade he habitually carried as the troops tried to seize him Thursday night at his brother’s home in the Serb-held town of Foca, 25 miles southeast of Sarajevo, at the border to Montenegro.

Janjic was the third war crimes suspect in the former Yugoslavia who died resisting arrest by international troops, dispatched to the area after the 1995 Dayton Agreement to end the Bosnia war. But it was the first time peacekeepers suffered casualties in an arrest attempt, said Paul Risley, a spokesman for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The German Defense Ministry said the wounded soldiers were from a specially trained German unit in the Foca area, which is under the control of the German contingent. None was in critical condition.

German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said Janjic was severely injured when he detonated a hand grenade and died shortly afterward.

NATO headquarters in Brussels said the soldiers did not fire their weapons during the arrest attempt. ``NATO deeply regrets the loss of life as well as the injuries,″ said NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson.

Janjic had vowed never to be captured alive and constantly had a grenade with him, which he did not hesitate to display to journalists.

A Bosnian Serb police spokesman in Banja Luka, Zoran Glusac, said two explosions were heard during the incident. One of Janjic’s relatives also was wounded.

Janjic’s sister-in-law, Nada Janjic, was arrested but later released, said Glusac.

A statement from the chief war crimes prosecutor in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, commended the courage of the troops and said ``we share a sense of regret that the attempt ended in tragedy.″

Del Ponte said making arrests ``continues to be a dangerous business. The events of last night only underscore the necessity that those who are publicly accused must voluntarily surrendered at the earliest possible date.″

Janjic was one of four Bosnian Serb subcommanders indicted for the torture, rape and enslavement of women and girls in Foca in the summer of 1992.

A prewar car mechanic, he was involved in the Serb attack on Foca and its surrounding villages and the arrest of civilians. He became one of the subcommanders of the Serb military police and a paramilitary leader in Foca.

Three other Bosnian Serbs went on trial in The Hague in March for the Foca atrocities, in the first attempt by an international tribunal to prosecute for wartime sexual enslavement.

Suspects have violently resisted arrest by international peacekeepers only three times before, Risley said.

In 1997, British troops killed one man reaching for his gun, and in 1998 another man was shot trying to run a roadblock. On a third occasion, a suspect shot at a Dutch soldier, but the bullet lodged harmlessly in his body armor and the suspect was captured, Risley said.

The tribunal has issued public indictments against 94 alleged war criminals, and secret indictments against others. Twenty were safely arrested by the peacekeepers and extradited.

Scharping said Germany would not be deterred from fulfilling future tasks for the tribunal. The tribunal has no enforcement arm of its own and must rely on the NATO-led troops to capture indicted criminals for extradition to The Hague for trial.

``The pursuit of war crimes suspects and further cooperation with the war crimes tribunal remains essential in the future,″ said Scharping.

Lord Robertson also pledged continued efforts to arrest suspects. ``NATO is committed to arresting indicted war criminals and delivering them to The Hague,″ he said.

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