Terror unabated in Serb camps

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The Independent Online
BOSNIAN prisoners who had been held in Serbian camps in Bosnia arrived in the Croatian town of Karlovac yesterday, bringing some of the most horrific tales yet about their treatment in the camps. A UNHCR spokeswoman talked of terror being 'out of control'.

Released prisoners arriving on buses claimed to ITN that educated prisoners had been separated from other prisoners and had been taken away, apparently to their deaths. Michael Nicholson, the ITN reporter, described the action as 'elitocide' and said that the accounts of different eyewitnesses tallied.

Altogether, more than 1,500 prisoners were evacuated yesterday. It seemed, however, that 'ethnic cleansing' was still continuing, despite Serbian denials. A Reuter correspondent in Trnopolje, in northern Bosnia, talked to a Bosnian who said that his own house had not been burnt down, unlike thousands of others in the area. But, he said: 'One night some men came and burnt down some haystacks next to the house. That's when I decided to go.' The man fled his village, in the Prijedor district, earlier this week. He is still in Serb-held territory, but hoped that a further Red Cross evacuation would take him to Croatia in due course. He told Reuters: 'If we stay, we will be physically destroyed.'

Bosnian Serbian leaders say that the reports of continued 'ethnic cleansing' from northern Bosnia are mere propaganda. But Sylvana Foa, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said:'The plan of terror being perpetrated in that area is really out of control.' She said: 'People were coming up and pounding on UN cars, saying 'please get us out of here'. There was much more terror in people's faces than two weeks ago.'

Aid flights to Sarajevo, interrupted after an Italian plane was shot down early last month, are set to resume today. But Britain has emphasised that it will not take part until the safety of its crews can be guaranteed.

In Washington, meanwhile, President George Bush announced last night that the US would support a ban on Serbian combat flights over Bosnia, and would agree to a UN request to help enforce it if such a zone were established.

'In co-operation with our friends and allies, we will seek a new UN Security Council resolution, with a provision for enforcement, banning all flights in Bosnian airspace except those authorised by the UN,' Mr Bush said.

In a three-page statement outlining a series of measures that the administration is taking to try to halt the civil war in former Yugoslavia, Mr Bush added that 'if asked by the UN, the United States will participate in enforcement' of a no-fly zone.

The other measures included an increase in the US share of the relief airlift into Sarajevo; additional US air and sea transport of UN forces protect relief operations; and new steps to tighten the embargo on Serbia.

Meanwhile, a tough US plan to set up a war crimes commission under the UN Security Council, to try to punish war criminals in the former Yugoslavia, including the Serbs responsible for executing 3,000 Bosnian Muslims at a detention camp, has been watered down because of objections by Britain and France in talks in New York.

The US began pressing last month for the creation of a UN war crimes commission 'which would be similar to the 1943 war crimes commission which led to the Nuremberg trials', but the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, and the French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, both poured cold water on the initiative in bilateral discussions in New York.

Instead of a war crimes commission backed up by the authority of the Security Council, Britain and France sought a much weaker option of setting up an international criminal court under the International Law Commission.

(Photograph omitted)