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Croatian held is massacre nurse

ZAGREB, Croatia -- A war criminal on-the-run arrested in Zurich has been identified as Zorana Banic, an ethnic Serb nurse who was convicted in 1998 for helping massacre 43 Croatian civilians.

The Croatian justice ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters it would demand Banic's extradition as soon as it received complete files on her case from the county court in Zadar.

The court in the Adriatic city tried Banic in absentia in 1998 for crimes against humanity and sentenced her to 20 years' jail.

Interpol had notified the ministry of Banic's arrest on Thursday, the statement said.

The woman held by Swiss police had been identified only as a 49-year old Croatian citizen before Croatian authorities confirmed her identity.

It is unclear if Banic will be re-tried or sent to jail to serve the prison term already set.

Banic was convicted for her role in the murders of 43 people who were shot or run over by tanks after rebel Serb attackers took over the village of Skabrnja, near Zadar, in 1991.

Those who died were mostly women and the elderly.

Croatian State radio on Friday quoted witnesses who gave evidence at the original trial that Banic had personally murdered one person with a knife.

Croatia tried more than a dozen Serbs, including Banic and another woman, for the massacre.

All but one were tried in their absence, having fled Croatia when Zagreb troops crushed their rebellion and recaptured their territory in 1995.

The Serb minority in Croatia rebelled against its drive for independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and won control of a third of the country with the help of the Yugoslav army.

The rebels expelled the local Croat population and proclaimed their own state on the seized territory before they in turn were ousted.


• Republic of Croatia

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