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Monday, March 9, 1998 Published at 19:11 GMT

World: Europe

Bosnian Serb pleads guilty to rape
image: [ Dragoljub Kunarac pleaded guilty to rape but not torture ]
Dragoljub Kunarac pleaded guilty to rape but not torture

A Bosnian Serb on trial for war crimes has pleaded guilty to rape.

It is the first time the war crimes court has treated sexual offences as a crime against humanity.

Dragoljub Kunarac, 37, is charged with commanding a paramilitary unit made up mainly of Montenegrins who repeatedly gang-raped and tortured Muslim women captured after rebel Serbs took control of the Muslim town of Foca in 1992.

Unshaven and dressed in a dark suit, Kunarac pleaded guilty to rape but not guilty to charges of torture. He waived his right to hear the indictment read out in full.

He is one of eight Serbs named in a 23-page indictment.

Kunarac, who turned himself in to the tribunal last Wednesday, is only the second person to enter a guilty plea at the court.

Prosecutors allege that the Bosnian Serb forces detained Muslim women, children and elderly people in Foca and the surrounding villages, some of which were run as brothels.

Many of the detained women, some as young as 12 years of age, endured inhumane conditions of detention and were subjected to humiliating and degrading conditions, brutal beatings and sexual assaults, including rape," prosecutors said in a statement.

According to his indictment, Kunarac personally raped four women at his unit's headquarters in the town.

It was not immediately clear if he was prepared to cooperate with tribunal prosecutors and testify against others.

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