SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnian Serb police launched a manhunt for a Bosnian Serb war criminal on Friday who had faked toothache to escape a 20-year jail sentence for serial rape, enslavement and torture of civilians, police said.
Police spokesman Danka Tesic said Radovan Stankovic managed to break away from nine prison guards while being taken to a dentist at a hospital in the centre of the eastern town of Foca where he was serving his sentence.
“He pushed away two guards who were with him when they got out of the van and then jumped into a white Volkswagen Golf which quickly drove by,” Tesic said.
“Based on witness accounts we suppose that he faked the toothache,” she said.
(This dude is a killer if I ever saw one)
Foca, the town where Stankovic’s crimes took place at the outbreak of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, is located in the Serb Republic that makes up Bosnia together with the Muslim-Croat federation. It is close to the border with Serbia.
Bosnian television reported that Stankovic has Serbian citizenship as well as Bosnian.
A former elite military soldier, he had been arrested by NATO soldiers in the hills near Foca in 2002 after a 12-hour stand-off and then transferred to the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague.
It sent his case to Bosnia’s state court in 2005.
Tesic said Serb Republic and federation police, the state border service GSBIH and state law enforcement agency SIPA were involved in the hunt for Stankovic.
“We are patrolling the wider area around Foca. All exits out of the town are blocked,” she said.
Eastern Bosnia is the area often reported as a likely hideout of top Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.
In April, the appeals panel of Bosnia’s war crimes court increased Stankovic’s sentence to 20 years from 16 after he had been found guilty of running a brutal detention camp near Foca.
He was also found guilty of encouraging and assisting in the capture, torture, rape and killing of non-Serb civilians.
Stankovic’s case was the first that was transferred to the Bosnian authorities from the U.N. court.