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Croatian Serb leader Babic commits suicide in jail

Written by: Staff
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AMSTERDAM, Mar 6 (Reuters) Former rebel Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic has committed suicide in detention in The Hague, the UN war crimes tribunal said today.

The tribunal said in a statement that Babic was found dead in his cell at the UN detention unit yesterday evening.

''The Dutch authorities were called immediately. After conducting an investigation, they confirmed that the cause of death was suicide,'' the statement said, adding that Tribunal President Judge Fausto Pocar had ordered an internal inquiry.

Babic was found guilty by the UN war crimes tribunal on a charge of persecution against non-Serb civilians, a crime against humanity, and sentenced to 13 years of prison.

After the tribunal's appeals chamber confirmed Babic's sentence last year, he was transferred to serve his sentence abroad, but he was brought back to The Hague last month to testify in the trial of Milan Martic, another Croatian Serb.

UN prosecutors regarded Babic -- the former president of the breakaway Krajina Serb republic after Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 -- as one of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic's key allies.

REUTERS OM RN1704

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