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13 May 2010 - Media release

Australian arrest of war crimes fugitive wanted by Croatia praised by INTERPOL

LYON, France – The arrest by the Australian Federal Police of a war crimes suspect wanted by Croatia and subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, or international wanted persons notice, has been welcomed by the world’s police body.

Dragan Vasiljkovic, aged 55, disappeared in March after the Australian High Court approved his extradition for trial to Croatia to face charges of war crimes against the civilian population and prisoners of war allegedly committed in Croatia in the 1990s.

To help locate Vasiljkovic, INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit liaised closely with the National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Canberra and Zagreb and issued an alert to all possible destination countries, including information such as fingerprints and pictures to assist in the fugitive’s identification.

Vasiljkovic, also known as ‘Captain Dragan’ was arrested by the AFP in New South Wales on Wednesday.

“The arrest of this individual again clearly demonstrates the commitment by law enforcement worldwide to bring all fugitives to justice, no matter where or when their crime was committed,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin.

“Croatia’s request for an INTERPOL Red Notice to be issued for this war crimes suspect ensured that his wanted status was known to law enforcement in each of INTERPOL’s 188 member countries significantly reducing his ability to travel.

“Australia’s and Croatia’s co-operation with law enforcement worldwide through INTERPOL which resulted in this successful arrest, is to be commended,” added Mr Louboutin.

INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support Unit at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France has been supporting investigations by member countries and International Criminal Tribunals and Courts into war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity since 1994, liaising closely with its network of specialist investigators and National Central Bureaus in the exchange of information and leads.

Its co-operation with the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (UN-ICTY) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UN-ICTR) as well as with the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, has led to a number of arrests worldwide.

In addition, a recommendation by INTERPOL’s European Regional Conference in May 2008 called on all member countries to provide full assistance to locate and arrest the four remaining fugitives wanted by the ICTY. Since then, two of the four (Stojan Zupljanin and Radovan Karadzic) have been arrested.