Serb 'Tiger' condemns war crimes charges
Arkan says his troops not in Kosovo
March 31, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- The leader of a feared Serb paramilitary force accused of orchestrating mass killings of civilians in Croatia and Bosnia denounced his indictment by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague and denied his troops were fighting in Kosovo.
"The people of Yugoslavia know that I am not guilty ... that I am not a war criminal. I didn't rape and I didn't kill innocent civilians," said Zeljko Raznjatovic, also known as Arkan, in an exclusive interview with CNN on Wednesday.
The tribunal revealed Wednesday it had secretly indicted Arkan on war crimes charges in September 1997 but kept it quiet to facilitate his arrest.
Louise Arbour, the U.N. court's chief prosecutor, said she was now disclosing the indictment because of reports that Arkan's "Tigers" paramilitary unit was involved in alleged Serb atrocities in Kosovo.
"If the public disclosure of this arrest warrant reduces somewhat the possibility of his arrest outside Yugoslavia it will nevertheless serve to put on notice those who might be inclined to retain his services or to obey his order that they too will be tainted by their association with an indicted war criminal," she said.
Refugees fleeing Kosovo have said Serb police and Yugoslav troops have forced ethnic Albanians from their homes, torching their neighborhoods and executing civilians.
Yugoslavian leaders have said there is no such campaign against Kosovo Albanians.
Arkan said neither he nor his troops were in the troubled province.
"No soldier of mine is engaged in Kosovo at the moment," he said.
However, many refugees have told CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour that Arkan's men were taking part in the Kosovo violence. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Monday that the Tigers were "fully integrated into the Yugoslav Army's 52nd Pristina Corps."
NATO welcomed the tribunal's announcement Wednesday, saying it serves as "a warning to all the other ... little Arkans" that they will suffer the same "fate as their mentor," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said.
Arkan's paramilitary unit is accused of systematically terrorizing Croats and Muslims during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1995. Human rights groups have long called for his indictment.
Reportedly one of Serbia's richest men, Arkan is also wanted for bank robberies in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.
Arkan vowed Wednesday he would never stand trial in The Hague.
"I would not surrender myself," he said. "I am not guilty. I fight to the end."
Correspondent Brent Sadler contributed to this report.
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