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Latest Bosian War Crimes Suspects Include High Ranking Muslims - 2001-08-03

The government of the Muslim-Croat federation within Bosnia-Herzegovina says it has arrested three Muslim military officers wanted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. At least two of them reportedly have already been handed over to The Hague tribunal.

The Muslim-Croat federation authorities said late Thursday that two retired army generals and an active brigadier voluntarily surrendered to local police, after they had been served with the Constitutional Court's extradition decision. Government officials said the Court ordered their detention and subsequent extradition on the basis of secret indictments and arrest warrants from the Netherlands-based tribunal.

Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann confirmed to the Associated Press that indictments have been handed to authorities in Sarajevo, but she refused to release names or other details. In a statement, the government named the generals as Mehmed Alagic and Enver Hadzihasanovic and the brigadier as Amir Kubura.

Muslim-Croat federation police reportedly detained the former generals early Thursday and soon escorted them to flights to The Hague. But police officials were not available for comment or confirmation. Observers say that generals Alagic and Hadzihasanovic would be the highest-ranking Muslims so far to be transferred to the U.N. Tribunal on suspicion of war-crimes.

General Alagic was reportedly arrested at his family home in Sanski Most while General Hadzihasanovic was picked up in his home in Sarajevo. Ministry of Defense officials said Brigadier Kubura, a wartime commander of the so-called seventh Muslim brigade of the Bosnian Army, was also detained in the Bosnian Capital.

General Alagic retired after the war and was elected head of the Sanski Most municipality. He was later removed from the post and earlier this year sentenced by a local court to four years in prison on charges of abuse of power. General Hadzihasanovic held several army posts during the war and became commander of the Third Corps. He was then promoted to the post of chief of staff of the Muslim-Croat federation army's joint command, before retiring last year.

The latest developments are seen as a sign that the Muslim-Croat federation, one of two highly-autonomous entities in ethnically-divided Bosnia-Herzegovina, is willing to cooperate with The Hague Tribunal.

In 1996, the federation arrested and extradited to The Hague two Muslims who were later sentenced to 15 and 20 years in prison for war crimes they committed against Serbs in a detention camp near Sarajevo, during the war.

The other entity, the Serb Republic, only last month drafted a proposed law on cooperation with The Hague tribunal. But the law has not received final approval and the Serb Republic has not yet arrested any war crimes suspects, although most of about 40 wanted men are believed to be hiding there.

NATO-led peacekeepers have arrested about 20 Bosnian Serb and Croat war crimes suspects since 1996. However tribunal prosecutors have pressured NATO to do more to arrest the key war crimes suspects, former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his wartime military advisor Ratko Mladic. Both wartime leaders have been indicted, but remain at large.