Croatia ‘Withheld Key Info’ on Fugitive General

Croatian authorities withheld for one year information that may have led to an earlier arrest of a fugitive general, now standing trial before a United Nations war crimes court, a newspaper reports.

In April 2004, the state’s attorney’s office, the police and secret services all had information that then-fugitive general, Ante Gotovina, was using a fake passport going by the name of Kristijan Horvat, the Novi List daily reported.

“However, this important information wasn’t forwarded to (global police agency) Interpol before March or early April 2005,” the paper reported, saying it had confidential official documents proving this.

The paper also quoted a memo from the state attorney’s office in 2005 in which former secret service chief Damir Loncaric said the information on the passport was received in 2004 and “immediately forwarded…to the State attorney’s office, interior ministry and counter-intelligence agency.”

The state attorney’s office declined to comment on the article.

Gotovina, whose case hampered Croatia’s bid to join the European Union, was arrested in December 2005 in the Spanish Canary Islands after four years on the run.

He and two other Croatian generals face charges at the UN war crimes court in The Hague of war crimes and crimes against humanity including persecution, murder and plunder related to a 1995 operation to recapture a Serb-held region in Croatia.

More than 350 Serb civilians died during the offensive, and between 150,000 and 200,000 Serbs fled or were forced to flee to Bosnia and Serbia, according to the indictment

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