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Bosnia: Croat War Crimes Suspects In Custody

The Hague, Netherlands; 6 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - The top Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect and nine others were turned over today to the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. The tribunal will try them for atrocities committed during Bosnia's war.

The tribunal placed the ten in custody after they surrendered in exchange for assurances of a speedy trial. The suspects arrived early this afternoon at Valkenburg military airport and were taken to the tribunal's detention center at Scheveningen, a town just north of the Hague. They joined ten other war crimes suspects jailed in the tribunal's special maximum-security holding cell.

The suspects are expected to undergo medical examinations and a briefing by tribunal staff before their formal arraignments on Wednesday. They are not due to appear before the court today. The Bosnian Croats say they are innocent, but want to clear their names.

The ten, including the top Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect, Dario Kordic, left this morning from Split, Croatia, for the Netherlands on board a Dutch C-130 Hercules airforce plane.

U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard, who witnessed the departure, said the move is "a significant step forward" for the Bosnian peace process. He said Kordic and the other nine men who surrendered will be assured of a fair trial.

The men gave themselves up yesterday, three days after the United States said it would work to ensure that the tribunal holds trials within three to five months.

All ten are charged with war crimes perpetrated against Muslims in central Bosnia's Lasva Valley during the spring of 1993.