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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Just When you Think it Can't Get any Worse I: Russia Starts Coddling War Criminals

MOSCOW, May 6 (Reuters) - A Russian court freed Dragan Zelenovic, a Bosnian Serb indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal, after he gave written agreement not leave the country, Interfax news agency reported on Saturday.

A court in the Khanti-Mansiisk autonomous district of western Siberia fined Zelenovic 20,000 roubles ($735) for having a forged passport, the news agency reported, citing an unidentified court official.A former military policeman, Zelenovic is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague for atrocities committed by Serb forces after capturing the town of Foca early in the 1992-95 Bosnian civil war.

An amended 2001 indictment charged Zelenovic and fellow military policeman Gojko Jankovic with 14 counts each of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war for torture and rape.

Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte has said that Russia was not doing enough to look for fugitives. Del Ponte's spokeswoman said last year that she expected Russia to extradite Zelenovic soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Russia would fulfill its obligations to the Hague tribunal. Interfax said prosecutors in Khanti-Mansiisk disagreed with the court's decision and have submitted an appeal. Zelenovic was detained in Russia last August.Russian media said at the time that he had been working on construction sites in Khanti-Mansiisk for several years and living under an assumed name. In August last year, a spokesman for local prosecutors told Reuters that Zelenovic was being held and said documents for Zelenovic's extradition were being prepared.

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