Monday, March 06, 2006

Major Serb war-crimes suspect commits suicide

Associated Press

Amsterdam ā€” Milan Babic, the Serb leader of a rebel republic in Croatia and one of the key figures in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, committed suicide in prison, the UN war-crimes tribunal said Monday.

Mr. Babic, who was serving 13 years for crimes against humanity, was found dead Sunday evening in his cell at the UN detention centre in Scheveningen, a suburb of The Hague, a tribunal statement said.

The Serb minority revolted after Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, setting off a war that lasted until 1995.

With the support of Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav president, Croatian Serbs proclaimed their own republic, with Mr. Babic as its president, and began an "ethnic-cleansing" campaign against non-Serbs.

Mr. Babic later was a pivotal witness at Mr. Milosevic's war-crimes trial, which is continuing in The Hague.

Mr. Babic's family was informed Sunday after the chief medical officer of the centre confirmed the cause of death was suicide. Dutch authorities were notified and a tribunal judge immediately ordered an inquiry.

The tribunal did not say how Mr. Babic killed himself. In Belgrade, the B92 television station said he ā€œprobably hanged himself.ā€ .......


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