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Australia extradites suspected Serb war criminal to Croatia

In this Sept. 21, 2005 photo, Dragan Vasiljkovic, also known as Captain Dragan and Daniel Snedden listens questions during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Croatian authorities say Dragan Vasiljkovic a dual Serbian-Australian citizen who was a paramilitary commander during the Balkan wars in the 1990s is being extradited to Croatia to face war crimes charges. He is accused of killings and torture of civilians while he was a rebel Serb commander during the 1991-95 Serb-Croat war. (AP Photo/Zoran Sinko)

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — A former Serb paramilitary commander during the 1990s’ Balkan wars was being extradited Wednesday from Australia to Croatia to face war crimes charges, authorities said.

Dragan Vasiljkovic, also known as Captain Dragan and Daniel Snedden, was handed over to Croatian authorities Wednesday at the airport in Sydney after losing a nearly 10-year court battle against extradition. He is expected to arrive in Croatia on Thursday.

Vasiljkovic is accused of killings and the torture of civilians while he was a rebel Serb commander during the 1991-95 Croatian war. The charges carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence in Croatia.

Serbia-born Vasiljkovic, 60, came to Australia when he was 15 but returned to the Balkans to train Croatian Serb rebels in 1991 when Serbs took up arms against Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia. A dual Serbian-Australian citizen, he has acknowledged serving in the Serb military but has repeatedly denied committing war crimes during the conflict that killed about 10,000 people.

The Australian Attorney General’s office said Vasiljkovic was surrendered to Croatian authorities based on their 2006 extradition request.

Vasiljkovic was first arrested in Australia in January 2006. Since then, he has challenged the extradition on 13 separate matters, including several unsuccessful applications to the High Court of Australia, authorities said.

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