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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Bosnian Croats surrender to trial
Retired General Slobodan Praljak as supporters sing national anthem
Supporters sang the national anthem as the suspects left
Six former Bosnian Croat officials have arrived in the Netherlands to surrender for trial on war crimes charges.

They are accused of murder, rape, detention and other crimes against Bosnian Muslims. They deny the charges, made public last week.

The six include Jadranko Prlic, who was prime minister of a breakaway Bosnian Croat state in 1993.

The men's surrender comes as Croatia seeks to advance its bid for membership of the European Union.

Jadranko Prlic
I am leaving with a clear conscience
Jadranko Prlic
Bosnian Croat breakaway PM
They boarded a Croatia Airlines flight from Zagreb to The Hague early on Monday, before surrendering to the tribunal after they arrived.

There were emotional scenes as they left Zagreb, where supporters gathered to sing the national anthem and some war veterans in wheelchairs wept as they saw their former leaders leave.

"I am leaving with a clear conscience," Mr Prlic said before boarding the plane. "I have no reason to prove my innocence - it is up to the court to prove my guilt."

The other five suspects are:

  • Bruno Stojic, former defence minister of the breakaway Herceg-Bosna mini-state
  • General Slobodan Praljak - former militia head
  • General Milivoj Petkovic - former militia head
  • Valentin Coric, a former commander of Bosnian Croat military police
  • Berislav Pusic, in charge of prisoner exchanges.
General Praljak said the men would clear their names.

"We are leaving here as innocent men and we will return as such," he said.

'Ethnic cleansing'

The indictment against the men alleges they drove Muslims and other non-Croats out of their mini-state as part of a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" to establish a Greater Croatia.

Bosnian Croats were allies with the Muslims for most of the 1992-95 war, fighting alongside each other against the Bosnian Serbs.

But for 11 months in 1993-94 they fought each other in a bitter conflict which saw murder, rape and other war crimes committed.

At the peak of the conflict, Bosnian Croats rounded up hundreds of Muslim men and put them in detention camps.

Croatian general Ante Gotovina, indicted by the tribunal in 2001, remains at large.

Tribunal indicts Bosnian Croats
02 Apr 04  |  Europe
Croat generals plead not guilty
12 Mar 04  |  Europe
Timeline: Croatia
30 Apr 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Croatia
13 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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