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Bosnia: Bosnian Serb Army Officer Transferred To The Hague

The Hague, 2 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A Bosnian Serb army officer was transferred to the United Nations detention unit in the Netherlands today to stand trial for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Momir Nikolic, an army major during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, was arrested yesterday at his home in the Bosnian village of Repovac, near Bratunac, by SFOR troops.

The indictment against Nikolic had been sealed, apparently so as not to warn him that he was on a wanted list and drive him into hiding. He is apparently being charged for his role in the Srebrenica massacre, in which an estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

Nikolic will be brought before tribunal judges at The Hague within a week to plead guilty or innocent.

The arrest follows a U.S. announcement yesterday that approximately $40 million of financial aid had been frozen because the Yugoslav government had failed to cooperate with the UN tribunal by handing over war crimes suspects. The U.S. Congress had given Belgrade until 31 March to comply.

Serbia's Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said that war crimes suspects will be arrested quickly and extradited to the UN tribunal. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic told journalists yesterday that his country would cooperate with the UN.

"We have just [finished] an extraordinary session of the federal government in which we brought a unanimous decision that as a member of the UN we are obliged to fully cooperate with the international tribunal for the war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia and have asked all state bodies to fully cooperate. We have also supported the decision made by the Serbian government that refers to direct cooperation with the tribunal."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell withheld a decision on whether Yugoslavia had cooperated sufficiently with the tribunal, giving Yugoslav authorities time to fulfill requirements and to receive the aid.