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Yugoslavia arrests four Dutch ''assassins''
BELGRADE, July 31 — Yugoslavia said on Monday it
had arrested four Dutchmen who it said were
planning to kidnap or kill President Slobodan
Information Minister Goran Matic said the men were posing as amateur
''weekend warriors'' but were in fact assassins sent by Western
agencies to deliver a ''Serbian head'' to U.S. President Bill Clinton at
summit in Japan.
''They were arrested just before the Okinawa summit,'' Matic said.
task was to make a present to the U.S. delegation.''
A Dutch official confirmed the identity of one of the men shown giving a
video confession, and that he had once been in the army as a conscript,
he had left the service 10 years ago.
Matic said the men had been caught in Mehov Krs, an isolated corner of
Serbia near Kosovo and Montenegro, about 450 km (300 miles) south of
A Dutch government source said the men may have been in the country
on holiday. ''We've been getting reports from people saying these guys
holiday in Croatia and Montenegro as they had been last year,'' the
Matic showed a film where a man speaking in English with a Dutch accent
gave his name as Johannes van Iersel and told an unidentified questioner
he and his friends had been looking for people indicted by the U.N. war
tribunal in the Hague.
Washington has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information
leading to the arrest of Milosevic, Ratko Mladic, who commanded Bosnian
forces during the 1992-5 conflict in Bosnia and former Bosnian Serb
Van Iersel said he knew Milosevic and Mladic were among those indicted.
Asked about Milosevic, he said:
''In case we meet him...I need to put him in a ski box on top of the car
drive him out of the country.''
PLAN TO SEND HOME MILOSEVIC'S HEAD - MINISTER
One of the other members of the group had a different plan, van Iersel
said, which was ''to kidnap and to kill the president and to decapitate
and put it in a box and send it home.''
''We have all got normal jobs in our life and at weekends we like to
into uniforms,'' he said, adding that there were several such groups.
The film also showed uniforms and equipment Matic said had been found
with the men, including an SAS Survival Guide widely available in
Matic said the men had been trained by the British special force which
said had also been involved in training police in the pro-Western
republic of Montenegro.
The Dutch Defence Ministry confirmed that one of the men shown and
named as Gotfrides de Rie was a former member of the Dutch military as
had said on the video.
''He was a conscript, he did his military service for one year and left
August 1990. He's not in the military at the moment. We have no idea
he's doing now. It's none of our business,'' said ministry spokesman
He said the ministry had been unable to identify the other members of
group. ''We are not certain they were in military service and the names
spelt very strangely so it's difficult to trace them,'' Schonau said.
DUTCH EMBASSY HAS NO INFO FROM SERB AUTHORITIES
The Dutch embassy in Belgrade said it had been given no information by
''We have asked the foreign ministry if they can confirm this story,''
Second Secretary Paul van Oostveen, adding that the ministry had yet to
back with an answer.
The Yugoslav government, blamed by its opponents for some mysterious
murders of public figures this year, regularly accuses Western spies of
assassination bids, singling out French and Americans so far.
Western officials have made it clear they would like to see Milosevic
ousted, but they have denied any attempt to assassinate him or any other
Matic, whose regular news conferences appear designed to counter
Western charges against Milosevic and reinforce the government's message
Serbs that the West is undemocratic and hypocritical, said the Dutchmen
not merely bounty-hunters.
''These are not weekend warriors, these are people who are deeply
involved in military and intelligence services,'' he said, adding that
had shown it could thwart all such attempts at ''international
''Their attempt to take a Serbian head and bring it to Okinawa also