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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 04:40 GMT 05:40 UK
Bosnian Muslims to face Hague tribunal
Bosnian Army unit near Mount Igman
Bosnian Army: War crimes were 'isolated incidents'
Three high-ranking Muslim veterans of the Bosnian war are to be handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague (ICTY).

The three, named as former generals Mehmed Alagic and Enver Hadzihasanovic, and a serving brigadier, Amir Kubura, were arrested on Thursday at the tribunal's request.

Mehmed Alagic
Mehmed Alagic was arrested by Bosnian police
There are no details as yet of the charges they will face, but a government statement said the indictments related to their "command responsibility in the war period".

Earlier, ICTY spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said that UN chief war crimes prosecutors had presented the Bosnian Government with several sealed indictments, but refused to reveal their number or the identities of those concerned.

The arrests came as Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic was convicted of genocide for his role in the 1995 murder of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

'Delicate' operation

The three men were arrested at their homes by plain-clothes police, Mr Alagic in the northern town of Sanski Most and the other two in the capital Sarajevo.

This is the first time local police in Bosnia have arrested their own people.

The commander-in-chief of the Bosnian army, Atif Dudakovic, described the operation as delicate and painful.

The Bosnian Government has consistently promised full co-operation with the tribunal, including the handover of suspects.

'Isolated incidents'

Bosnian Muslim commentators say that some war crimes were committed by the majority Muslim Bosnian army during the war.

Mass war grave near Srebrenica
Srebrenica was Europe's worst massacre since World War II
But they say that these were isolated incidents and not the planned genocide of which they have accused the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat armies.

Correspondents say Generals Hadzihasanovic and Alagic are the highest-ranking Bosnian Muslims to be transferred to The Hague.

Two others, Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo, have already been convicted by the tribunal.

They were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years respectively for crimes against Bosnian Serbs in Celebici, in central Bosnia.

Handover call

Parliament in the other entity in Bosnia, the Serb Republic, recently approved the first draft of a law on co-operation, but the authorities there have yet to arrest any of the indictees believed to be living on their territory.

Radislav Krstic
Krstic: sentenced to 46 years
On Thursday UN prosecutors called for the immediate handover of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military commander, Ratko Mladic - both indicted by the tribunal but still at large.

The call followed General Krstic's sentencing to 46 years for his part in the Srebrenica massacre.

During his trial, Krstic said he was acting on the orders of other generals. He plans to appeal against the decision.

It was the court's first conviction for genocide - the most serious of war crimes - in connection with the Bosnia war, and the toughest sentence it has passed so far.

The massacre in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica - a designated UN safe haven - is regarded as Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

Krstic, 53, is the first senior official linked with the massacre to be tried by the tribunal in The Hague.

The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"The local authorities in Bosnia have arrested their own people"
See also:

02 Aug 01 | Europe
General guilty of Bosnia genocide
02 Aug 01 | Europe
Q&A: Srebrenica massacre
20 Feb 01 | Europe
Bosnia war criminals lose appeal
16 Nov 98 | Europe
Three guilty in Bosnia trial
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