Jun 1, 2007
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- A former Bosnian Serb general was taken into custody at the U.N. detention center Friday to face charges of genocide for his alleged role in the massacre at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995.
Zdravko Tolimir was a senior aide to the Bosnian Serbs' wartime military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, during the slaughter of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica -- the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.
AP correspondents outside the detention center in The Hague suburb of Scheveningen saw Tolimir enter the facility in a black Mercedes.
Tolimir was considered the third most wanted war crimes suspect still at large in the Balkans after Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic.
Catina Tanner, a tribunal spokeswoman, confirmed Tolimir's arrival. She said no date has been set yet for him to appear before a U.N. judge to hear the indictment against him. Initial appearances generally are held three days after arrival, though suspects may ask for a 30-day extension before entering a plea.
Tolomir was arrested Thursday as he tried to cross the Bosnian border from Serbia, in a joint effort by Bosnian and Serbian authorities, and was handed to U.N authorities in Banja Luka.
He was flown from Sarajevo following a medical check.
Tolimir, a ranking intelligence and security officer during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, was indicted in 2005 by the U.N. tribunal with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, as well as murder in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.
Bosnia's top international official welcomed the arrest and said it was the first time Bosnian Serb police had apprehended a war crimes suspect wanted by the U.N. tribunal.
"Yesterday's arrest is extremely significant," said German diplomat Christian Schwarz-Schilling, in a statement released in Sarajevo. "On the one hand, an important war crimes suspect, charged with genocide, will now face justice. On the other hand, the arrest itself was, for the first time, carried out by the Republika Srpska police."
For more than a decade, Bosnian Serbs have refused to hunt war crimes suspects who were presumed to be hiding on their territory.
Schwarz-Schilling urged Bosnian Serb authorities to now "build on yesterday's success and to help deliver all remaining war crimes suspects rapidly to justice, including in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic."