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Croatia war-crimes suspect extradited

ZAGREB, Croatia -- An ethnic Serb convicted in absentia and sentenced to 20 years in prison for wartime atrocities has been extradited to Croatia.

Zorana Banic, 49, was arrested by Swiss authorities at Zurich airport earlier this month on an Interpol warrant issued by Croatia in 1998.

At the time, a local court in the coastal city of Zadar found Banic guilty of taking part in a 1991 massacre of 43 Croatian civilians in the village of Skabrnje, just outside Zadar.

The massacre came in the early days of Croatia's war for independence, when Serb paramilitary units emerged to challenge the republic's decision to split from Yugoslavia.

The victims, mostly elderly men, women and children, were shot to death.

Some of the survivors recently testified on state-run television of Banic's "particular cruelty" and said she was a member of a Serb paramilitary unit.

The massacre shocked Croatia and has remained, for many, a symbol of Serb rebels' cruelty against Croats.

Banic, a Croatian citizen, arrived in Zagreb on a regular Croatian Airlines flight from Zurich on Friday, accompanied by Interpol officers and was to be transferred to Zadar's prison.

Because she was convicted in absentia, she has a right to a new trial.

Hungarian authorities recently extradited another ethnic Serb convicted in absentia for the Skabrnje killings. Momcilo Draca was arrested in Hungary earlier this year.

In another war crimes case, the Zagreb district court on Friday approved the extradition of a former Bosnian Croat military police chief to the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Hague court made its indictment against Pasko Ljubicic public earlier this month, charging him with commanding Bosnian Croat militias that killed at least 113 Muslims in and around the central Bosnian village of Ahmici in April 1993.

Ljubicic, 35, surrendered to Croatian police a week ago and is expected to fly to The Hague next week, said his attorney, Tomislav Jonjic.


• Croatia
• Switzerland

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