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Source: Washington Post, April 1 1996

Indicted Bosnian Croat Surrenders to Tribunal

REUTER: AMSTERDAM, April 1, 1996:
Bosnian Croat Gen. Tihomir Blaskic surrendered to the International War Crimes Tribunal today to face charges of killing Muslim civilians, including children who appeared to have been burned alive.

After arriving in Amsterdam aboard a commercial flight from Zabreb, the Croatian capital, he was driven in a police motorcade to the tribunal's detention center just outside the Hague, the tribunal said. Blaskic is due to appear before the tribunal Wednesday and will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him, a spokeswoman said.

He was indicted last year with charges arising from an '"'ethnic cleansing'"' of Muslims in the Lasva Valley area of central Bosnia from May 1992 to May 1993. As regional commander of the Bosnian Croat militia at the time, he was responsible for killing or expelling almost all of the Muslims in the area, the tribunal said.

Blaskic and five other Bosnian Croat leaders were charged with various atrocities, including an alleged massacre at the village of Ahmici, near Vitez. Scores of Muslim civilians were killed in Ahmici, including the children who apparently were burned alive.

One of Blaskic's lawyers, Zvonimir Hodak, told reporters in Zagreb that the general expects to be back in Croatia by Easter. '"'I absolutely think that he can be acquitted. If we did not think we have a real chance, we would not be going there voluntarily,'"' Hodak said.

Blaskic's surrender was clinched in weekend talks between U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak. Western governments have been pressing Croatia and Serbia to turn over those indicted by the tribunal, as they pledged to do under the peace accords agreed to in Dayton, Ohio, last November.