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Australia Rejects Appeal by Serbian War-Crimes Defendant

A Serbian man accused of war crimes has lost a court challenge to block his extradition from Australia to Croatia.

Dragan Vasiljkovic had argued before Australia's High Court that he was detained illegally in January and should be released, because Australia and Croatia do not have an extradition treaty.

He is accused of involvement in the torture and killing of Croatian civilians and prisoners of war in the early 1990s, during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Vasiljkovic, also known as "Captain Dragan", says he led rebel Serb paramilitary units during the conflict in Croatia, but denies he committed any war crimes.

Rebel Serbs in southern Croatia during that time carried out an ethnic-cleansing campaign that forced tens of thousands of Croats to flee their homes.

In ruling Thursday against Vasiljkovic, the court said full details of the case will be published at a later date, during formal extradition proceedings.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.