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Bosnian Serb indicted over Sarajevo war crimes

Bosnia's state prosecutor on Saturday charged a former Bosnian Serb soldier with murder, rape and intimidation of non-Serbs in the capital Sarajevo during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

world Updated: Feb 19, 2011 20:14 IST

Bosnia's state prosecutor on Saturday charged a former Bosnian Serb soldier with murder, rape and intimidation of non-Serbs in the capital Sarajevo during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

The indictment of Veselin Vlahovic, 42, for crimes against humanity is one of the most extensive issued by the Bosnian war crimes court, said Boris Grubesic, spokesman for the prosecutor.

"The indictment has 56 counts and describes some of the most brutal war crimes committed against civilians in the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Grbavica and Vraca in 1992 and 1993, including torture, abuse, rape and murders committed in the presence of the victims' family members," Grubesic said.

Vlahovic, also known as "Batko", is charged with persecution, killings, arrests and imprisonment of Croats and Bosnian Muslims, many of whom remain unaccounted for, as well as with looting their property, he said.

Vlahovic, who was born in Montenegro, had three international arrest warrants pending when he was detained in 2010 in Spain and delivered to the Bosnian court. He served jail time after the Bosnian war for an armed robbery in Montenegro in 1998.

Bosnian Serbs, backed by the former Yugoslav army, launched a bloody ethnic cleansing campaign in April 1992 and within a few months captured almost three-quarters of Bosnia and encircled Sarajevo, where more than 10,000 people died during a three-and-a-half year siege.

Grubesic said that the prosecutor proposed that more than 100 witnesses would be heard and around 300 exhibits presented as evidence, including statements from survivors and the results of exhumations and autopsies.

Earlier in February police arrested another Bosnian Serb suspected of being an accomplice to Vlahovic.

The Bosnian war crimes court was set up in Sarajevo in 2005 to reduce the workload of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.