Muslim officers indicted

By Arthur Max

Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — A day after convicting a Bosnian Serb of genocide for killing thousands of Muslims, the U.N. tribunal unveiled indictments Friday against three high-ranking Bosnian Muslims for war crimes against Serbs and Croats.

The men — two generals and a colonel — flew to the Netherlands on Friday evening, the Bosnian government said in a statement.

They are charged with responsibility for the execution of civilians and war prisoners, for using hostages as human shields under fire and for the pillaging and destruction of towns and villages in 1993.

The indictments and the tribunal’s first genocide verdict Thursday were the latest indications of the growing influence and acceptance of the tribunal’s authority in the former Yugoslavia, especially after the surrender of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in June.

Former generals Mehmed Alagic, 54, and Enver Hadzihasanovic, 51, are the highest-ranking Muslims so far to be arrested on war crimes charges. Amir Kubura, 37, a senior officer, was also arrested.

Most of the serious crimes were committed by foreign Muslim volunteers who joined the Bosnians in what they called a jihad, or holy war, and who branded themselves mujahedeen, the tribunal said.

The 19-count indictment charged the three officers with failing to prevent men under their command from committing atrocities that they knew, or should have known, were about to happen.

It did not accuse any of them of personally committing or ordering specific illegal actions, but said all three were experienced and professional officers accustomed to military command and discipline.

The indictment, seeking to bolster the argument of command responsibility, cited a booklet distributed to the all-Muslim troops instructing them to follow the tenets of Islam forbidding the killing or torture of women and prisoners. But the booklet also said soldiers must follow orders if senior officers decide "on a different course of action," such as burning villages or crops, or even executing prisoners.

On Thursday, the tribunal broke new ground when it convicted Gen. Radislav Krstic of genocide in the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica, where up to 8,000 Muslim men were slaughtered during one blood-soaked week in July 1995.

Krstic, 53, was sentenced to 46 years in prison, the longest sentence the court has imposed so far.

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