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Bosnian Serb Surrenders to War Tribunal - 2001-08-15

A Bosnian Serb army officer suspected of involvement in Europe's worst massacre since World War II surrendered Wednesday to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dragan Jokic turned himself in near Banja Luka at a base of the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Defense Ministry of the Serb entity in Bosnia Herzegovina confirmed the surrender of Lieutenant-Colonel Jokic. Bosnian Serb Defense Minister Slobodan Bilic said his government was not involved in the transfer of the officer to the Hague tribunal.

His lawyer, Krstan Simic, said the army officer had decided to surrender after tribunal representatives questioned him last month. Mr. Simic said that Lieutenant-Colonel Jokic has been accused by the tribunal of crimes against humanity and breaches of the laws and customs of war.

The war crimes tribunal has indicted the lieutenant-colonel in connection with the massacre of Muslims after Serb forces captured the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in 1995, despite the presence of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers.

As many as 8,000 mainly Muslim men and boys are believed to have been executed in what has been described as Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

During 1995, Lieutenant-Colonel Jokic was the commander of the engineering section of the Zvornik brigade, which was integrated into a Bosnian Serb army unit that operated in the area during the war.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jokic is the seventh Bosnian Serb suspected of war crimes to surrender to the U.N. court. Last week, NATO troops detained Bosnian Serb wartime commander Vidoje Blagojevic, for his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre.

The tribunal handed out its first genocide conviction in early August to former Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, who received a 46-year prison sentence for his involvement in the Srebrenica atrocities. Up to 30 other suspects remain at large and U.N. prosecutors have criticized NATO for not doing enough to arrest the most wanted men, former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic.

The former Bosnian Serb president was even spotted spending a vacation in the coastal Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. He and General Mladic are believed to be the main architects of the Srebrenica massacre.

So far, the remains of around 4,500 Muslim victims from Srebrenica have been discovered, but more graves are still being uncovered.