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Serbo Journal

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Serbs present new evidence of Dudakovic's war crimes

Bosnian Serbs, the second largest ethnic group in the country, have presented fresh evidence of crimes allegedly committed by the Bosnian Muslim army during the 1992-1995 civil war. The Centre for Public Security (CPS) in Banjaluka, the capital of Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska, has said it submitted evidence to the Bosnian public prosecutor against 20 individuals for crimes committed against the civilian population and prisoners in western Bosnia.

The crimes were allegedly perpetrated against Serbs, but also against a rebel Muslim group headed by Fikret Abdic, who opposed Muslim wartime leader Alija Izetbegovic, the CPS claims. It says they were committed in 1994 and 1995 by the Fifth corps of the Bosnian Muslim army, led by general Atif Dudakovic.

A total 800 people were killed in the Fifth corps offensive, including 350 civilians, and 100,000 people were displaced, mostly Abdic's Muslim supporters, according to the CPS report. A video that appeared to show Dudakovic's forces killing civilians and burning villages was recently shown by Serbian television. But Dudakovic rejected the accusations, saying he only "defended his country."

Bosnian Serb officials have said they submitted evidence against Dudakovic to the United Nations' Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. But the tribunal, which plans to complete its work by 2008, is not accepting new cases and is referring them to local courts. Most of the 150 individuals indicted by the UN's Hague tribunal are Serbs, which has prompted accusations from Serbia that the court was practising "selective justice" and trying only Serbs.

Bosnian Muslim leaders, including Sulejman Tihic, Muslim member of Bosnia's three-man rotating state presidency, have rushed to Dudakovic's defence. Tihic said he was "proud of Dudakovic's war record," describing him as a hero. In a related development, the Banjaluka Alternative Television channel late on Tuesday aired another video apparently showing one of Dudakovic's commanders, Hamdija Delalic, ordering his soldiers near the western town of Cazin to use all means to retake the lost positions.

"We must break through - kill everything that comes in your way," Delalic is heard telling his soldiers. "I approve and order the destruction of the enemy by all means - knives, bombs, teeth," he says. Asked by soldiers whether rape was allowed too, he is heard replying: "You have the right to do everything."

Apart from murder, looting and burning of villages, many women were raped as a result of Delalic's orders, Esad Covic the Muslim president of western Bosnia's war prisoners' association, told Banjaluka Alternative Television. He cited the case of a Muslim woman, now living in the United States, who suffered a nervous breakdown after repeated rapes. "Unfortunately, she will never be a person to whom one could talk again," he said. Covic said his the western Bosnia's war prisoners' association sent the documentation on the crimes of the Fifth corps to Hague in 1999, but never received a reply from the tribunal.

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