February 15, 2016 / 12:22 PM / 3 years ago

Former U.N. war court convict arrested in Bosnia on fresh war crimes charges

Darko Mrdja (R), a former Bosnian Serb policeman, listens to his counsel Otmar Wachenheim (L) before receiving his sentence in the courtroom of The Hague tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands March 31,2004. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s police arrested an ex-convict of the U.N. war crimes court and two other Bosnian Serbs on Monday for war crimes committed early in the country’s 1992-95 war, which claimed 100,000 lives.

Former Bosnian Serb policeman Darko Mrdja was jailed in 2004 for 17 years by the Hague-based international war crimes tribunal after he confessed to taking part in a 1992 massacre of more than 150 Bosniaks - Bosnian Muslims - in central Bosnia. He was released in 2013.

The mass killings on Mount Vlasic occurred as part of a wave of ethnic cleansing carried out by rebel Bosnian Serb forces who were trying to create a Serb statelet by removing Bosniaks and Croats from the area.

The police on Monday arrested Mrdja, Radenko Marinovic and Milan Gavrilovic on fresh charges on the orders of the state war crimes prosecutor, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The trio, as well as another Bosnian Serb who is currently serving a prison term in Bosnia, are suspected of killings, maltreatment and beatings of prisoners at the Manjaca and Omarska detention camps in northwestern Bosnia, the statement said.

“They are suspected of killing at least ten Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks in front of the camps and while guarding the transportation of illegally held inmates,” the office added.

Mrdja is also suspected of murdering three Bosniaks in the village of Sredice, as well as for the arrest of another one in the village of Tukovi whose whereabouts remain unknown, the prosecutor’s office said.

Thousands of Bosniak and Croat civilians were killed and tortured in the four Serb-run camps in northwestern Bosnia, of which Omarska was the largest.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Toby Chopra

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