Croatia hunting ex-general over grisly murders


CROATIA:CROATIA IS hunting a one-armed retired military general after the gruesome murder of four people, including his former army aide.

Officials refused to say whether Ivan Korade (44) was being sought as a suspect or a witness in the murder of the four, who were found with gunshot and stab wounds in two villages in northern Croatia.

Local media reported that some of the victims had been shot through the eyes.

"Ivan Korade is among the people for we have been searching for," said police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec. "We presume that he has information that could help us identify the perpetrator of this grave crime."

Some 300 police officers, including special forces personnel supported by armoured vehicles and helicopters, searched the area around Velika Veternicka, where Gen Korade lives but has not been since since the killings.

A 63-year-old neighbour and a 62-year-old woman and her teenage grandson were killed in the village on Thursday night, a day after Davor Petris, a former military policeman and aide of Gen Korade, was found murdered in a nearby village.

Police urged residents to report any sightings of Gen Korade, who has been accused of involvement in beatings, armed threats and drink-driving in recent years, and has a conviction for violent behaviour.

Neighbouring Slovenia was also on alert in case Gen Korade slipped across the border.

Critics have accused the authorities of being too lenient with Gen Korade, who is widely regarded in Croatia as a war hero. He made his name during his country's 1991-95 war of independence with Serbia, losing an arm during the fighting.

He was one of the main commanders in the 1995 Croatian offensive, codenamed "Storm", that recaptured swathes of territory for Zagreb from rebel Serbs, and which many Croats say forced Belgrade leader Slobodan Milosevic to the negotiating table to end the war.

The leader of the operation, Gen Ante Gotovina, is on trial for war crimes at the UN court in The Hague.