Former Croatian Serb Prez commits suicide | india | Hindustan Times
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Former Croatian Serb Prez commits suicide

Babic, 50, was found dead in his cell at around 6.30 pm on Sunday evening.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 22:41 IST
DPA

Former Croatian-Serb president and convicted war criminal Milan Babic has committed suicide in his cell in Scheveningen near The Hague where he was being held, the UN war crimes tribunal said on Monday.

Babic, 50, was found dead in his cell at around 6.30 pm on Sunday evening, an official for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said.

He was serving a 13-year sentence imposed by the tribunal in 2004 for crimes against humanity committed against non-Serb civilians during the 1991-95 war in the Krajina region of Croatia.

Last month Babic returned to The Hague to give evidence in the trial of Milan Martic, another Croatian Serb leader.

As a key prosecution witness in the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, he had since 2005 been held in a secret prison to protect him from possible reprisal.

During the Balkan wars of the 1990s, he was an ally of Milosevic as president of the breakaway Krajina Serb Republic but struck a deal with UN Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte in 2003.

He pleaded guilty in January 2004 to participate in a plan to forcibly and permanently remove the non-Serb population from his region.

"The crimes he admitted to include murder, deportation or forcible transfer, and unlawful imprisonment of non-Serb civilians, as well as the destruction of their property," the tribunal said.

His suicide is the second to have taken place in the UN detention unit at Scheveningen.

In June 1998, the Croatian Serb Slavko Dokmanovic hanged himself with a tie.

In a statement announcing the suicide, the tribunal said the medical officer of the UN detention unit had confirmed Babic's death shortly after his body was found.