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Sunday, 21 October, 2001, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Dubrovnik siege general surrenders
The historic centre of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was under fire for three months in 1991
A former Yugoslav army general indicted over the shelling of the ancient Croatian port city of Dubrovnik in 1991 has voluntarily surrendered to the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Retired Lieutenant-General Pavle Strugar, 68, is one of four former Yugoslav army and naval officers charged with war crimes for their alleged role in the siege of Dubrovnik.


I am not a criminal

Pavle Strugar
The other three men, who are still at large, are believed to be in Serbia, and the Tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is expected to push for their extradition when she visits Belgrade on Monday.

More than 40 people were killed and much of Dubrovni - a medieval walled city declared a UNESCO World Heritage site - was destroyed during shelling by the Yugoslav army, navy and airforce.

Surrender

Former General Pavle Strugar flew by private jet to The Netherlands from the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, accompanied by his lawyer, family members and doctor.

The historic centre of Dubrovnik
The shelling of Dubrovnik was "wanton destruction"
He is the first Yugoslav citizen to give himself up voluntarily to the court.

Before departure, General Strugar said he was convinced that the tribunal "is as as honourable as a Yugoslav court would be" and that he would get a fair trial.

"I was a soldier for 42 years. I always treated people and the state in a dignified and humane manner...That is how I acted during the war. I am not a criminal," he said.

The Montenegrin Government has said it will ask the War Crimes Tribunal to allow General Strugar, who has spent the past two weeks in hospital with kidney problems, to remain at liberty during the trial because of his ill health.

Pearl of the Adriatic

The other officers indicted are former navy chief Admiral Milan Zec, Admiral Miodrag Jokic, and Captain Vladimir Kovacevic.

The four men are charged with the murders of 43 civilians. They are also accused of wilful damage to historic monuments in Dubrovnik and the destruction of nearby villages.

The artillery siege began after Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, sparking years of war in the Balkans.

More than 500 buildings were destroyed or damaged in Dubrovnik, once known as the Pearl of the Adriatic.

It is expected that General Strugar will appear before the tribunal later in the week.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | Europe
Dubrovnik siege suspects named
02 Mar 01 | Europe
Charges over Dubrovnik bombing
02 Mar 01 | Europe
Battle to save world treasures
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