Zagreb, 29 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Retired General Janko Bobetko, the highest-ranking Croatian official indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal to date, died at his house today. The state news agency Hina says Bobetko died due to the failure of his respiratory and blood circulation systems.
Bobetko, who was 84 and had suffered from diabetes and a serious heart condition for years, was indicted in September 2002 for the killing of Serbian civilians during a military operation in 1993, when he was the army chief. He was regarded as a hero by many Croats.
Bobetko denied any responsibility and vowed never to surrender. The government challenged his indictment in a legal complaint, drawing Western warnings that it must fully cooperate or risk a delay in the country's bid for European Union membership.
Doctors appointed by the tribunal then examined Bobetko and proclaimed him too ill to travel or stand trial and the tribunal suspended his arrest warrant in April.
Shortly afterwards Bobetko ignored doctors' orders and left the hospital, where he had been receiving treatment since November, to be with his family.