[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 23:52 GMT 00:52 UK
Serb war suspect gives himself up
Former Yugoslav army chief Nebojsa Pavkovic
Gen Pavkovic was identified with the Yugoslav army tactics in Kosovo
A former Yugoslav army chief wanted on war crimes charges has voluntarily agreed to surrender to the UN tribunal in The Hague, Serbia's government says.

It said Gen Nebojsa Pavkovic - who is now retired - was now in its custody and would go to The Hague on Monday.

Gen Pavkovic, 59, is wanted for alleged crimes during the 1998-99 conflict in Serbia's province of Kosovo.

Thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed there during the crackdown by the Serbian security forces.

A statement by the Serbian government quoted Gen Pavkovic as saying he would fly to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as an "honourable soldier who has devoted his life and honour to his country".

The statement - which gave no details of Gen Pavkovic's current whereabouts - said he had no "desire to become an obstacle to our country's struggles for a better future".

The European Union has repeatedly said that the surrender of key war crimes suspects was one of the pre-condition for closer ties between Brussels and Belgrade.

EU foreign ministers will meet on Monday to decide whether to consider Serbia for associate status in the 25-member bloc.

'Terror campaign'

The indictments against Gen Pavkovic - and also three other army and police officers - were unsealed by the Hague prosecutors in October 2003.

Two of his co-accused, Sreten Lukic and Vladimir Lazarevic, have already surrendered to the UN war crimes tribunal. The third - Vlastimir Djordjevic - is believed to be hiding in Russia.

Gen Pavkovic was the commander of the Third Army in Kosovo during the conflict.

According to the indictment, the four accused officers planned and executed a "deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians".

Gen Pavkovic's forces are accused of causing the false deportation of 800,000 ethnic Albanians, murder, rape, the shelling of towns and villages and the destruction of Kosovo-Albanian cultural and religious monuments.

His forces are also accused of the massacre of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians in the village of Racak in January 1999.

Changing sides

Gen Pavkovic was an ally of former President Slobodan Milosevic, who is standing trial on war crimes charges in The Hague.

He later switched support to Serbia's new democratic authorities, after refusing to use troops against demonstrators during the protests that led to the overthrow of Mr Milosevic in Belgrade.

He was backed by Mr Milosevic's successor Vojislav Kostunica, despite outside pressure for his removal.

However, Mr Kostunica removed him in 2002 following a spy scandal.

Former Yugoslav army chief held
02 Apr 03 |  Europe
'Third failure' for Serbia poll
16 Nov 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
18 Nov 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: After Milosevic
18 Nov 03 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific