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Tribunal Continues Detention of Top Bosnian Croat General

April 25, 1996

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ A day after it released a dying Serb general, the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal Thursday rejected bail for a Bosnian Croat general, one of just three suspects in its custody.

Gen. Tihomir Blaskic asked the U.N. court in The Hague to release him so he could visit his sick wife and look after his month-old son.

Blaskic, 36, is accused of commanding troops that rampaged through the Lasva Valley in central Bosnia, murdering hundreds of Muslims and torching houses in spring 1993.

At a hearing earlier in the day, he reminded the court that he had turned himself in and said he could be trusted to do so again. He also offered to post a bond and said the Croatian government would guarantee his return.

But Judge Claude Jorda said those measures were insufficient to ensure his return, adding that Blaskic’s ``freedom might endanger witnesses.″

Serb Gen. Djordje Djukic, the suspect freed Wednesday, suffers from cancer of the pancreas and not expected to live long enough to stand trial for his role in the 30-month shelling of Sarajevo, which killed 10,000 civilians.

Djukic arrived in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on Thursday as questions surfaced about the gravity of his illness.

Djukic’s attorney, Milan Vujin, said the tribunal released him, not because he was sick, but because it has no case against him.

Djukic’s doctor, Slobodan Ivanovic, said the general was not as sick as Dutch doctors had said and claimed Djukic was not properly treated during his 2 1/2 months in the Netherlands.

The tribunal has indicted 57 war crimes suspects: 46 Serbs, three Muslims and eight Croats. But with the release of Djukic, the court is now only holding three, including Blaskic.

Also Thursday, a Croatian newspaper reported that the chief guard of a Bosnian Serb-run prison camp had been convicted of war crimes by a Croatian court and sentenced to a maximum 20 years in prison.

Mirko Graorac, 53, was arrested in the Adriatic port of Split in March last year after he was identified by at least three former inmates of the Manjaca camp in northern Bosnia.

After a year-long trial, Croatia’s district court convicted Graorac Wednesday after testimony from 10 witnesses, the Slobodna Dalmacija newspaper reported.

It was unclear if Croatian authorities will hand over Graorac’s case to the international tribunal.