Six Bosnian Serbs Arrested over Hundreds of Wartime Deaths

Bosnian police on Wednesday arrested five wartime officers and an ex-politician, all ethnic Serbs, suspected of involvement in the deaths of hundreds of civilians during the country's 1990s conflict.

"These people are suspected of implementing, as senior military officials... the expulsion of some 5,000 Muslim and Croat civilians from Kotor Varos," a northwestern town, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"At least 300 people were killed" during these operations which also involved "torture, rape, illegal detention and looting", the statement said, adding that the crimes were mostly committed in 1992, in the first months of the conflict.

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war between its ethnic Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives and displaced about two million people, almost half of the country's pre-war population.

Among those arrested on Wednesday were officials from the wartime 22nd infantry brigade of Bosnian Serb forces, including commander Bosko Peulic and the head of a battalion, Slobodan Zupljanin.

The two had been called by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to testify in other war crimes cases, including that of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, who is on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Among the latest arrests was also Dedeljko Djekanovic, president of political wartime "crisis committee" of Kotor Varos.

The case is being handled by the Bosnian justice system, which deals with lower-profile war-related cases, while the ICTY tries top political and military officials charged with genocide and war crimes committed during the conflict.

On Tuesday, Bosnian police arrested three Muslim men for war crimes against ethnic Serb civilians during the war when they were serving as police and army commanders.

Source: Agence France Presse

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