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Bosnia: NATO Chief Praises Arrest Of War Crimes Suspect

Brussels, 22 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana has praised the arrest today of a Bosnian Serb wanted on genocide charges and urged all war crimes suspects to surrender to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Solana said NATO wants to send a clear message to the people of Bosnia that the NATO-led SFOR troops in their country will continue working to bring war crime suspects to trial.

He made his comments after SFOR troops arrested Goran Jelisic, a 29-year-old Bosnian Serb, on a charge of genocide in connection with the murder of 16 Muslims at a detention camp he ran in May, 1992.

Jelisic was arrested without incident in his hometown of Bijeljina in northeastern Bosnia as he was going to a bookshop. Tribunal documents say Jelisic called himself "the Serb Adolf" and went to Brcko in northern Bosnia in the spring of 1992 with the stated aim of killing Muslims as part of the Bosnian Serbs' campaign of so-called "ethnic cleansing."

Jelisic is accused, along with another man, of crimes committed at the Luka prison camp in Brcko. Jelisic is one of seven suspects indicted for genocide, the tribunal's most serious charge. He is now on his way to The Hague, and will be the 20th suspect in custody out of 75 publicly indicted.

Chief prosecutor for the UN War Crimes Tribunal, Louise Arbour, also today urged the dozens of indicted men still at large -- mainly Bosnian Serbs -- to surrender to the tribunal.

The tribunal has in custody nearly all the indicted Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims, but has only a handful of indicted Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects. Pressure is growing for the arrest of Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic.