Injured ITN cameramen bring Serbian surgeon back to UK

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The Independent Online
First Edition

A SERBIAN surgeon escaped from Sarajevo to Britain yesterday with two injured ITN newsmen whose wounds he had treated. Dr Milomir Ninkovic arrived at Heathrow airport from Zagreb on a private plane chartered by ITN to bring home its cameramen Nigel Thomson and Jim Dutton.

Three days ago Dr Ninkovic operated on Mr Dutton to prevent his hand being amputated. Both cameramen were wounded when a mortar bomb exploded outside the Europa Hotel in Sarajevo, a haven for refugees. Dr Ninkovic, whose wife and two children were evacuated from Bosnia eight weeks ago, later asked to leave with the ITN crew.

Yesterday Mike Nolan, ITN's senior foreign editor, who arrived at Heathrow with the men, would not give details about their escape.

He said there was nothing illegal in bringing the doctor into Britain. Dr Ninkovic would only stay the weekend and then travel to Innsbruck to meet up with his family and take up a new surgeon's post.

He said it was a 'bonus' that Dr Ninkovic had wanted to leave with the crew because he had been able to pass the details of Mr Dutton's first operation on to his new consultant at the Lister Hospital in London.

He denied that Mr Dutton had been doing the doctor a favour for saving his hand and said there was no comparison between this case and the action of Michael Nicholson, the ITN journalist who last month smuggled a Bosnian orphan out of the former Yugoslavia. Yesterday Mr Dutton, with both his hands swathed in bandages, said he might still have to have his two middle fingers amputated.

He warned that Bosnia was full of amateur cameramen trying to get a big story. 'I'm experienced and look what happened to me. There are a lot of cowboys out there taking pictures. It's mad.' Nigel Thomson, Mr Dutton's partner, was less seriously injured.

(Photograph omitted)