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Bosnian Serb in custody by UN war-crimes tribunal

Bosnian Serb fugitive taken into custody by UN war-crimes tribunal

A Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader accused of burning to death scores of Bosnian Muslim men, women and children during that country’s 1992 violence was today taken into custody by the United Nations tribunal charged with bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.

Milan Lukic, first indicted on 26 October 1998 together with his cousin Sredoje Lukic and family friend Mitar Vasiljevic, was brought into the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after having been transferred from Argentina, where he was arrested in August 2005 after almost seven years on the run.

The Tribunal has indicted Mr. Lukic on charges of murdering, severely beating, unlawfully detaining and terrorizing Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians. He is also charged with destroying and looting their homes and personal property.

According to the indictment, he formed a group of Bosnian Serb paramilitaries, referred to as “White Eagles” and “Avengers,” in spring 1992 to spread terror among the local Muslim population.

In one among many incidents with which he is charged, the indictment alleges that on or about 14 June 1992, he, along with his cousin and others, forced approximately 70 Bosnian Muslim women, children and elderly men into a house in Višegrad.

They barricaded the house, set it on fire and shot at those who tried to escape by climbing out the windows. Almost everyone locked in the house was killed, including 18 children between the ages of two days and 14 years, the indictment says.

Mr. Lukic joins his cousin Sredoje, who has been in the Tribunal’s custody since September 2005, in the Detention Unit to await trial.

A date for his initial appearance before the Tribunal where he will enter a plea has yet to be announced.

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