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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK

World: Europe

Arkan: 'I'm not going to hide'

Arkan (left) gave an exclusive interview to the BBC's John Simpson

The Serbian paramilitary leader and politician, Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan, says he is not going to go underground, even though the UN war crimes tribunal is seeking his arrest for war crimes.

Kosovo: Special Report
"I'm not going to hide, I'm not going to surrender. I will go on with my normal life," Mr Raznjatovic told the BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson in an exclusive interview.

Mr Raznjatovic had previously been on a sealed list of war crimes suspects. He and his men are held responsible for some of the worst massacres in recent Balkan conflicts.

Click here to watch the full Arkan interview
The United Nations criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia issued an arrest warrant on him on Wednesday.

The arrest warrant had been issued already in 1997 and Mr Raznjatovic thinks the decision to publicise it now is political.

"They have been waiting for eight years to tell me that I am a war criminal and now they do it," he said.

Ethnic cleansing denied

Mr Raznjatovic rejected accusations that Serb forces are pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing and said that Nato is responsible for the present crisis.

Click here to watch the full Arkan interview
"People are simply running away from the bombing. People are simply running away because you (Nato) are bombing them 24 hours a day. As well as bombing Yugoslavia, you're bombing Pristina and all parts of Kosovo," Mr Raznjatovic told the BBC.

"Not only Albanians are running away. Serbs are running away. Turks are running away. Gypsies are running away. Everybody is running away," he said.

Atrocities denied

Mr Raznjatovic is leader of a paramilitary group known as the Tigers. They are alleged to be responsible for atrocities that were carried out in Vukovar in Croatia and at Bijeljna in Bosnia at the start of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

He denies the charges, saying he was only defending his country.

"I fought in the war in 1991 and 1992 _ Muslim soldiers were killed, but my soldiers were killed too. I only killed enemy soldiers in a fair fight," he said.

Mr Raznjatovic denies reports that his troops have been in Kosovo, insisting his men would only go to the Serbian province if Nato troops set foot on Yugoslav soil.

"If Nato troops will come with ground forces, I will be the first volunteer in the Yugoslav army to defend my country, my family, my children" he said.

"You have no proof that any of my volunteers have been in Kosovo. Secondly I have no private troops, they do not exist. I have only volunteers and we are all under the command of the Yugoslav army," he said.

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