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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Profile: General Ademi
General Rahim Ademi
General Ademi claims he has been made a scapegoat
By Dumeetha Luthra in Zagreb

General Rahim Ademi is the first person from Croatia to face charges at the international war crimes tribunal - others who have been prosecuted have been Bosnian Croats.

The 47-year-old joined the Croatian army when the country declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

During the war, General Ademi initially helped defend his home town of Sibenik, before being assigned in 1992 to Gospic in southern Croatia.

Croat soldier in Vukovar
Croat soldiers are accused of carrying out a scorched earth policy
The charges of crimes against humanity and violations of the rules of war against him stem from a 1993 government offensive in the Medak pocket, near Gospic.

The operation aimed to recapture territory seized by Serb rebels - the self-proclaimed Serb republic of Krajina - earlier in the war.

However, the operation and its aftermath have been called a "scorched earth campaign" by the UN, as Croatian troops burned down villages and killed Serb civilians.

General Ademi led the campaign and now stands charged with murder, persecution and the plunder of property.

The war crimes tribunal has charged him with individual responsibility for "developing, planning, ordering and/or the execution of the Croatian military operation in the Medak pocket, resulting in the commissions of serious violations of international humanitarian law".

He is also held responsible for the acts of the forces under his control.

Ante Gotovina
General Gotovina is still at large
In interviews, General Ademi has claimed he is being made a scapegoat. He said he was only a commander in a formal sense, and that other military officers were actually in charge.

In late 1993, then Croatian President Franjo Tudjman suspended General Ademi of his duties as commander of Gospic, a move seen as reflecting pressure from the international community over his actions in the war.

In 1994, General Ademi joined a second general who has also been charged by The Hague tribunal, Ante Gotovina, in leading an offensive against Serb forces in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

In August 1995, the last year of the war, he participated with General Gotovina in Operation Storm, an offensive that is seen by many Croatians as the final push for full independence that rid the country of Serb rebels.

A year later, General Ademi was named chief of staff for the military region of Knin. However, since 1999 he has held a more obscure post in the Croatian defence ministry as an assistant to the ministry's chief inspector.

Albanian origin

General Ademi, although Croatian by nationality. is of Kosovo Albanian origin.

In the late 1980s he was in prison for a year for what the government called Albanian extremism.

Some analysts say the outcry in support of General Ademi has been muted because he is not of Croatian origin.

However, attitudes in Croatia towards its generals and war heroes is changing.

Increasingly, Croatia is looking to come to terms with its past in an effort to move forward and closer to European prosperity.

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See also:

20 Jul 01 | Europe
Warlord on trial in Croatia
16 Jul 01 | Europe
Croatia's war crimes legacy
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