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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 19:20 GMT
Prominent Kosovo suspect held
Fatmir Limaj
Limaj is accused of torturing and killing Serb and Albanian prisoners
The United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has confirmed that a prominent ethnic Albanian from Kosovo indicted last month has been arrested in the former Yugoslav state of Slovenia.

The tribunal said in a statement that Fatmir Limaj, a deputy in the Kosovo parliament and former member of the guerrilla group KLA, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon in Kranjska Gora, near the border with Italy and Austria.

Mr Limaj will be extradited after the Slovenian authorities receive the tribunal's indictment against him, although it is not clear when he will be sent to The Hague.

The suspect is accused along with three other former KLA members of torturing and killing Serb and Albanian prisoners in the late 1990s.

He did not surrender - he was arrested in another country
Florence Hartmann
Hague tribunal spokeswoman
The others were arrested on Monday by the Nato-led peacekeeping force K-For in Kosovo and are already at in The Hague.

The chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, had criticised K-For for allowing Fatmir Limaj to leave Kosovo and avoid arrest.

Mr Limaj flew out of Kosovo on a business trip on Friday despite an arrest warrant issued against him and the three others three weeks ago.

"He was not on the run, he was not in hiding, he simply booked the flight ticket and like any ordinary citizen he was allowed to board this flight," Carla Del Ponte said in a statement released in Montenegro.

"It was that simple. And it is outrageous."

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Limaj said he was "willing to surrender voluntarily in The Hague".

Hague 'impartial'

The Hague tribunal has been accused in the past of turning a blind eye to war crimes committed by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo during their 1998-99 conflict with Belgrade.

This should send a message that we will act against any person indicted for war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity," Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson said after the arrests.

Mr Limaj and fellow suspects Haradin Balaj, Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi are accused of crimes at the KLA's Lapusnik Prison Camp:

  • Led by Mr Limaj, they are accused of routinely beating and torturing at least 35 Serbian or Albanian inmates

  • When the camp was overrun in July 1998, they allegedly evacuated some of the inmates to the mountains where Mr Balaj and Mr Murtezi are accused of shooting 11 of them dead. The fate of two others is unknown.



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