Australia hunts Serb war crimes suspect commander

A former Serb commander accused of war crimes in the Balkans was being hunted by Australian police on Thursday.

Australia hunts Serb war crimes suspect commander

A former Serb commander accused of war crimes in the Balkans was being hunted by Australian police on Thursday after disappearing in the wake of a court ruling that he could be extradited to Croatia.

Australia's High Court approved his extradition and reinstated a 2006 warrant for his arrest of Dragan Vasiljkovic, 55, a Serbian who also has Australian citizenship.

Croatia holds Vasiljkovic, whose Australian name is Daniel Snedden, responsible for torturing and killing Croat soldiers and civilians, as well as a foreign journalist, when he commanded a Serb paramilitary unit during Croatia's 1991-95 independence war.

"Mr Snedden is now required to be committed to prison to await the Minister for Home Affairs' final determination whether or not to surrender him to Croatia to face prosecution for war crimes offences," a spokeswoman for Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.

Vasiljkovic is known as "Captain Dragan" during the war in Croatia.

Last week, the presidents of Croatia and Serbia promised a new era in relations, effectively resuming ties after a year of silent hostility.

On Wednesday, Serbia's parliament apologised for the 1995 killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two, without calling it massacre as genocide.

Police were on Thursday searching Vasiljkovic's last known residence in the town of Boambee, north of Sydney. Vasiljkovic did not attend the court and police had no power to arrest him until after the High Court ruling.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor and McClelland will have the last say on whether Vasiljkovic will be extradited to Croatia.

Croatia declared independence from communist Yugoslavia in 1991, but its Serb minority, backed by Belgrade, rebelled and seized a third of the country by force. Croatia crushed the rebellion in two offensives in 1995.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Nisan 2010, 12:11

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