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Milosevic's Army Chief Surrenders

Yugoslavia: Dragoljub Ojdanic turns himself in to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

April 26, 2002|From Associated Press

THE HAGUE — Yugoslavia's former army commander turned himself in to the U.N. war crimes tribunal here Thursday, insisting that he has "a clear conscience."

Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic, 60, is the first of six indictees to make good on a pledge to surrender rather than be arrested and extradited to the court in the Netherlands. He is the most senior Yugoslav army officer to face war crimes charges at the court.

Ojdanic flew from Belgrade to Amsterdam on a regular Yugoslav Airlines flight accompanied by a lawyer and his wife, who wept as he was taken into custody.

The former chief of staff was indicted in May 1999 with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is now on trial. Ojdanic faces five counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war, punishable by up to life imprisonment.

Ojdanic is accused of ordering attacks on ethnic Albanian villages in Kosovo between January and June 1999. He will plead not guilty at his initial appearance today, according to one of his lawyers, Tomislav Visnjic. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.

Visnjic declined to comment on whether his client would testify against Milosevic.

"I have nothing to be ashamed of," Ojdanic said shortly before surrendering. "I have a clear conscience."

He joined 40 other suspects at the U.N. detention center in a seaside suburb of The Hague.

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