Milosevic's army chief surrenders to tribunal

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Momcilo Perisic, a former Serbian army chief of staff and political leader, is to become the latest in a string of former military chiefs to surrender to the UN tribunal over war crimes charges arising from the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.

General Perisic, a one-time ally of Slobodan Milosevic, the ex-Yugoslav president, said that going before the court "is the only way I can defend my honour, the army's reputation and the dignity of our people". The tribunal in The Hague has not yet made public the charges against the general, now 60.

He was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by a Croatian court for bombing the town of Zadar in 1991 and the Serb media has suggested that the indictment is for war crimes committed there and in the Bosnian town of Mostar. It may also include responsibility for, or failing to prevent, the siege of Sarajevo, rocket attacks on Zagreb and the Srebrenica massacre in which 7,000 men and boys were killed.

The two men fell out over the issue of Kosovo and General Perisic founded an opposition party that helped topple his president in 2000. He became deputy prime minister in the post-Milosevic era but was forced to step down in 2002 over allegations of spying for the US.

In The Hague yesterday Rasim Delic, 55, a former Muslim general, denied four counts of war crimes and of knowing of or failing to stop executions of Serb and Bosnian Croat prisoners. General Delic, who went voluntarily to The Hague, is the sixth Bosnian Muslim charged.

Officials say the recent surrenders do not signal a significant change in the co-operation received from governments.