Kenya frees Balkans warcrimes suspect

March 28, 2009 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, Kenya, March 28 – Kenya police have freed a man suspected of links to war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, saying it was a case of mistaken identity.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said investigations with Interpol "have conclusively established that the person arrested is not Mr. Ratko Mladic but a Croatian national holding a valid passport and work permit.

"There is really nothing much about it. We have released him to carry on with his business because it was a mistaken identity. He is now a free man," he added.

The man identified as Igor Majeski was arrested in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday and detained for interrogation.

Earlier, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) spokeswoman said the man was not Ratko Mladic or Goran Hadzic, the two warcrimes suspects still sought by the UN tribunal.

"We have just got the confirmation that the arrested man is neither of our fugitives. Not Mladic, not Hadzic", said Olga Kavran.

Interpol also confirmed that the suspect was not the fugitive Bosnian Serb Mladic, wanted for genocide and other atrocities during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Little is known about his whereabouts almost 15 years later.

Identity checks based on fingerprints of the man arrested in Kenya did not match those of the former Bosnian Serb commander, an Interpol spokesman told AFP.

"A series of checks, including against Interpol’s fingerprint database have confirmed that the man is not Ratko Mladic," said the spokesman.

Mr Kiraithe explained that police received information about a man who "bears a very close resemblance to Mr Ratko Mladic was operating a business in south coast" in Mombasa.

"That is when our officers went there and picked him up," he added.

Several sources in Kenya’s tourism industry ruled out Majeski, the owner of a tourism company called Blue Lagoon Watersports Ltd, as being one of the two ICTY fugitives in disguise.

"It is most certainly not him. Igor has been doing what he does in Kenya since the late ’80s," a Kenya-based investor told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"I know him and many people know him, he has been around too long, there is definitely a mistake if he was arrested as a suspect in the genocide," he said.

Majeski was apprehended by about 20 plain-clothes policemen shortly after 10:00 am (0700 GMT) at a tourist resort he has run for several years and taken to his home before being transferred to a police station, witnesses said.

Belgrade’s B92 Radio described the suspect as a German national who has been based in Kenya for the past 12 years. An informed source in Belgrade said the suspect was a German citizen of Yugoslav origin.

On Thursday, UN chief war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz arrived in Belgrade for a visit to assess Serbia’s efforts to capture Mladic and Hadzic, a crucial condition for the country to join the European Union.

"Serbia is fully aware of its legal obligations that the remaining suspects must be in The Hague… Our country intensively searches for the remaining suspects," Serbian President Boris Tadic said after meeting Brammertz.

Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic is the most senior suspect to have been tried by the ICTY but he died in 2006 before his trial in The Hague ended.

Mladic’s former political boss as Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, was arrested in Serbia last year and transferred to The Hague.

The ICTY was established by the UN Security Council in 1993 to prosecute war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia at the time of its violent break-up.


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