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Two Bosnian Serbs Arrested On Wartime Massacre Charges

SARAJEVO (Reuters) -- Bosnian police have arrested two Bosnian Serbs, including a police officer, suspected of taking part in the massacre of about 200 Muslims and Croats in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the state prosecutor's office said.

Branko Topola, 41, was arrested in a police station in the northwestern town of Prijedor where he is an active officer. Petar Civic, 39, was arrested in the southwestern town of Gornje.

"The two were arrested on suspicion that together with other members of the intervention platoon of the Prijedor police and members of territorial defense unit, they committed the criminal offence of crimes against humanity," the office said in a statement on August 27.

The mass killing in central Bosnia occurred on August 21, 1992, as part of an "ethnic cleansing" campaign as rebel Bosnian Serb forces clashed with Bosnian Croats and Muslims during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Bosnian Serbs had told the prisoners, from detention camps for non-Serbs in the western Prijedor area, they would be released in a prisoner exchange but instead drove them away in buses, lined them up by the edge of the ravine on Mount Vlasic, and shot them.

A dozen survived by jumping down the cliff.

Bosnia's war crimes court is currently trying nine Bosnian Serb policemen suspected of committing the atrocity. Two have confessed and pledged to assist in further investigations.

Forensic experts on August 26 said they had found the remains of at least 60 Muslims and Croats in a ravine where around 200 prisoners were massacred. They said that some of the bodies were burned and that some had been moved in order to hide the traces of the crime.

In July, the war crimes court sentenced a former Serb policeman to 14 years in jail for crimes against humanity for the massacre at Mount Vlasic.

In 2004, the Hague-based war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia jailed another Serb policeman, Darko Mrdja, for 17 years for the same crimes.

More than 3,500 Muslims and Croats were killed in the Bosnian Serb "ethnic cleansing" campaign in the Prijedor area in 1992.