Croatian Serb chief accused of terrorism

War crimes: UN charges Krajina leader over cluster bomb attacks

TONY BARBER

Europe Editor

Milan Martic, the leader of the failed Serbian uprising against Croatian rule, was accused yesterday of terrorism by a prosecutor at the United Nations war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia. Opening a three-day hearing in The Hague, the Swedish prosecutor, Eric Ostberg, said Mr Martic ordered a cluster bomb attack on Zagreb last May, which was intended to cause maximum civilian casualties.

"The shelling of Zagreb was not a reprisal [for Croatian attacks on Serbs]. It was a terror retaliation and it was unlawful," Mr Ostberg said. "Zagreb was lucky. I am surprised that many, many more people didn't die."

Seven civilians died in the rocket attacks, which followed a successful Croatian offensive to recapture western Slavonia, an area seized by Serb rebels in 1991. The UN tribunal contends Mr Martic gave orders for the rockets to be fitted with cluster bomb warheads, designed to scatter lethal fragments at civilian targets.

Mr Martic, who was president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, the self-proclaimed Serb state in Croatia, has been in hiding in the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia since Croatia's army overwhelmed his forces last August. The hearing in The Hague does not amount to a trial in absentia of Mr Martic, but prosecutors want tribunal judges to issue an international arrest warrant for him and confirm he should stand trial for war crimes.

Mr Martic has spat defiance at the UN tribunal, telling Banja Luka television in Serb-held Bosnia last week: "I do not recognise the legitimacy of that tribunal and will not let them arrest me or put me on trial. Any such attempt will be considered an act of terrorism, and we are prepared to respond appropriately," he said.

Nato forces implementing the Dayton peace agreement for Bosnia were issued last week with "wanted" posters bearing Mr Martic's photograph. They are empowered to arrest UN-indicted war criminals if they come across them in the course of their normal duties, but have no specific instructions to hunt down the accused men.

Mr Martic was the first Serb leader to be made the subject of a special war crimes hearing. His Bosnian Serb counterparts, Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, have been formally accused of war crimes but remain at liberty in Serb-held parts of Bosnia.

A British police investigator, Kevin Curtis, read out to the UN hearing a transcript of a television interview last May in which Mr Martic appeared to take personal responsibility for the rocket attacks on Zagreb. "What the Croats have done is a crime

Mr Curtis said the Serbs fired a dozen Orkan rockets at Zagreb, each carrying a payload of 280 fist-sized bomblets filled with hundreds of ball-bearings. One rocket exploded over streets near a children's hospital, an old people's home and the Croatian dance academy.

The tribunal agreed to consider an application for the release of a Bosnian Serb general arrested by Bosnia's Muslim-led authorities last month and taken to The Hague by Nato forces on suspicion of war crimes. No formal charges have been issued against General Djordje Djukic, who was arrested along with a Bosnian Serb colonel, Aleksa Krsmanovic.

In seeking General Djukic's release, a Belgrade lawyer, Milan Vujin, said his arrest and transfer to The Hague were illegal. The general is being held under a tribunal rule concerning the provisional arrest of suspects in urgent cases.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform