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Guilty Plea in Bosnian Camp Crimes

Former commander admits torturing, killing and persecuting Muslim prisoners during war.

September 05, 2003|From Reuters

THE HAGUE — A Bosnian Serb charged with a long list of killings and beatings as the commander of a detention camp during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of crimes against humanity.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Dragan Nikolic reversed a not-guilty plea he had made at the United Nations tribunal in 2000. He admitted persecuting, torturing and killing Muslim prisoners and aiding and abetting sexual violence at the camp.

Nikolic, 46, also admitted beating several prisoners who later died of their wounds.

Prosecutors have called for a prison term of up to 16 years. Nikolic is expected to be sentenced before the end of the year.

About 8,000 Muslims and other non-Serbs were detained in the crowded camp in eastern Bosnia, where prosecutors said inmates were beaten on a daily basis from May through October 1992. Nikolic was arrested by NATO-led peacekeepers in northern Bosnia in April 2000.

Meanwhile, the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague was halted Thursday because of his ill health. Judges asked doctors to evaluate his physical and mental condition.

Milosevic has suffered from high blood pressure, flu and exhaustion since his trial started in February 2002. He is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.

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