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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Profile: Milan Martic
Radovan Karadzic and Milan Martic
Martic (right) became Krajina president in 1994
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By Tamara Kovacevic
line

Milan Martic, a former leader of Croatia's Serb minority, was indicted in The Hague for his alleged part in rocket attacks on the Croatian capital Zagreb in 1995.

Mr Martic was then president of the self-proclaimed Serb republic of Krajina, in the south of the country near the border with Bosnia.

He is one of 23 war crimes suspects whom Yugoslavia has agreed to hand over to the Hague tribunal, and has offered to surrender voluntarily.

In May 2002, Mr Martic flew to the Netherlands to surrender to the UN war crimes tribunal.

Mr Martic was born in 1945 near the town of Knin in Croatia.

He graduated from the Croatian police academy and, before Croatia's independence, he was a senior inspector with the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Secession

The Serb minority in Croatia became concerned about their future when right-wing Croat nationalists won the country's first multi-party elections in 1990.

The Croatian Serbs wanted to remain in Yugoslavia and while Croatia started the process of secession from Belgrade, Serb militants announced secession from Croatia.

In 1991, they proclaimed the territory where the majority of Croatian Serbs lived the autonomous Serb republic of Krajina.

Milan Martic was put in charge of Krajina's internal affairs and in 1994 he became president of the self-proclaimed republic.

Rebel attacks

The conflict between Croatian forces and Serbs helped by the Yugoslav Army escalated in the summer of 1991. By September that year almost a third of Croatia was under Serb control.

Although the two sides signed a cease-fire in January 1992 and most of the Yugoslav forces withdrew from Croatia, the Serb rebels continued to attack Croatian Government-held territory.

The Hague tribunal charged Mr Martic with war crimes relating to two such attacks, on 2 and 3 May 1995.

According to the indictment, the Serb leader either ordered or knew of two rocket attacks on the Croatian capital Zagreb, but did not take the necessary measures to prevent them or punish the perpetrators.

According to the indictment, at least seven civilians died in the attacks and others were injured.

'Willing to explain'

The Serb rebels held most of the territory of Krajina until August 1995, when the Croatian army launched a massive offensive and regained the territory.

At least three quarters of some 200,000 Serbs who lived there fled together with the Serb irregulars and leadership, fearing reprisals by the Croats.

Since he left Croatia, Mr Martic has been living in Bosnia and Serbia.

On 22 April 2002, his lawyer submitted surrender papers to the Justice Ministry of Yugoslavia.

A Yugoslav news agency quoted the lawyer as saying that Mr Martic would face up to his responsibility and was "willing to explain both to the Hague tribunal and his people everything that happened".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Belgrade
"It looks as though Serbia is prepared to hand over suspects to the tribunal"
See also:

12 Mar 02 | Europe
The Hague looms over the Balkans
12 Apr 02 | Media reports
Former Serbian minister's suicide note
17 Apr 02 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
01 Mar 02 | Europe
The race to catch Karadzic
25 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Croatia
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