UN urged to act on Bosnia rights abuses

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The Independent Online
SETTING the stage for a Nuremberg-like trial of war criminals in the former Yugoslavia, the United States has submitted an extensive catalogue of 'substantiated' violations of humanitarian law to the UN Security Council based on eye-witness accounts.

The report provides chilling evidence - complete with dates and locations - of mass killings of Muslim detainees by Serbs. It presents evidence of women prisoners being tortured and raped in detention centres. The report accuses the Muslim and Croat sides of beating and raping female inmates of prison camps.

A humanitarian mission of the Conference of Security and Co- operation in Europe to Bosnia led by Sir John Thomson submitted a report to the UN recommending international action against the policy of 'ethnic cleansing' and calling for all prisoners to be released 'immediately and in a safe and controlled manner'.

The US was prodded into action over Bosnia following publicity given to the reports of 'Serbian death camps' in the US media in July. The expulsion of Yugoslavia from the UN General Assembly on Tuesday has added to the isolation of the country in the international community. At yesterday's General Assembly debate, the French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, condemned the 'barbaric practices' of massacring civilians, inhuman detention camps and 'ethnic cleansing'. Germany's Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, went further, saying that 'those who commit genocide . . . serious violations of human rights . . . must be brought before an international crimes tribunal.'

The US report is expected to provide a basis for any such action and Mr Kinkel said that the International Law Commission should draw up 'an appropriate statute' to establish such a court. The report is based on evidence collected by diplomats in Bosnia and eye-witness reports of violations. The first entry deals with Manjaca prison camp near Banja Luka, where 25 bodies of emaciated men were discovered with their throats cut on 25 August. They were found in a camp run by the Serbian Army of Bosnia under General Ratho Mladic.

An entry for 24 August cites a resident of Pososje who saw 24 men, two women and two boys machine-gunned by Serbs in her neighbour's garden. In another incident, attributed to a State Department report, 200 Muslim refugees say 17 male refugees were taken from buses and 'liquidated'. The report said that the killers were members of two Serbian volunteer groups 'which had been systematically abducting and murdering Muslims' near Macedonia. The CSCE report focused on evidence gathered during a mission by legal, medical and political experts which ended on 4 September.

WASHINGTON - Milan Panic, Prime Minister of the rump Yugoslavia, arrived here yesterday to seek US support in solving the crisis in the Balkans. Mr Panic was expected to meet leading members of the US Congress including Senator Clairborne Pell, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Reuter reports.

ZAGREB (AFP) - Serbian gunners killed 11 people and wounded 20 in an artillery attack on a hospital in western Bosnia, it was reported yesterday. Pierre Gautier of the International Red Cross said the hospital at Bihac was hit by shells on Tuesday. Bihac, mainly inhabited by Muslims, has been under siege for several months by Serbian forces. Two French soldiers were wounded by shrapnel yesterday while guarding workmen repairing an electricity transformer in Sarajevo. .