Croatian war crimes fugitive captured in Canary Islands


MADRID -- The Spanish government announced yesterday that Ante Gotovina, a top war crimes suspect from Croatia, had been arrested in Spain's Canary Islands, clearing a major obstacle to Croatia's efforts to join the European Union.

Spain's Interior Ministry said Gotovina, 50, was arrested Wednesday night at a restaurant in a luxury hotel in Tenerife.

The Croatian government had been criticized by European Union officials as failing to cooperate sufficiently in the search for Gotovina, who is a revered figure in parts of Croatia.

Croatian officials quickly sought to portray the arrest as evidence that they had not been giving cover to Gotovina, as some critics had suggested. "Those who believed us when we were saying that Gotovina was not in Croatia today received the final and complete confirmation," Croatia's prime minister, Ivo Sanader, said in Zagreb.

Gotovina had been a fugitive since he was indicted in 2001 by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague for crimes against humanity, war crimes and murder during a 1995 military campaign he led to retake the Krajina region from the Serbs.

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