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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Bosnian general surrenders to UN
Bosnian forces on Mount Igman in December 1992
A number of Bosnian commanders have been indicted
A former commander-in-chief of Bosnia's mainly Muslim army has surrendered himself to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

General Sefer Halilovic, 49, the highest-ranking Muslim officer to be indicted by the court, is accused of failing to prevent the killing of 33 Bosnian Croat civilians in the village of Grabovica in September 1993.

He has protested his innocence of the charge, which the court classifies as "responsibility by omission".

General Halilovic helped to form the Bosnian army when war broke out in Bosnia Hercegovina in 1992, and was its commander until November 1993.

He is currently serving as Refugee and Social Affairs Minister of the Muslim-Croat federation which, together with the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska, makes up post-war Bosnia.

Indictment welcomed

The general was escorted to Sarajevo airport by UN and Bosnian police, and flew to The Hague on a UN aircraft.

His lawyer, Faruk Balijagic, described the charges as "doubtful", saying there was concrete evidence that his client had ordered an investigation into crimes committed in Grabovica.

This is a positive process which will show that... not only one people and one man is guilty for the war

Bosnian Serb President Mirko Sarovic
He is expected to appear before judges on Friday.

The Bosnian Serb leadership welcomed the indictment.

"This is a positive process which will show that... not only one population and one man is guilty for the war," Mirko Sarovic, the president of the Bosnian Serb entity, told the daily Glas Srpski.

The paper quoted the Serb member of Bosnia's three-party presidency, Zivko Radisic, as saying that the indictment showed the tribunal was applying the same criteria to all war crimes suspects regardless of their nationality.

The Bosnian Serb parliament is in the process of implementing a law on co-operation with the UN tribunal.

Arrest threat

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic, are the tribunal's most wanted men.

General Halilovic is among 15 suspects from the Muslim-Croat federation who are being sought by the tribunal, most of them Bosnian or Croat generals.

Local media have reported that nine of the indictees are about to hand themselves over to the tribunal, and that those who do not go voluntarily are likely to be arrested.

Bosnia's Muslims and Croats began the war in 1992 as allies, but fought a war in 1993. In 1994 they joined together in a federation.

See also:

15 Nov 00 | Europe
Bosnia: The legacy of war
11 Jan 01 | Europe
Analysis: Plavsic's surrender
29 Aug 01 | Europe
Plavsic wins temporary release
09 Aug 01 | Europe
Bosnian Muslims deny war crimes
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