World

Accused Serb war criminal Arkan murdered

Notorious Serb paramilitary leader Zeljiko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, has been shot and killed at a hotel in Belgrade.

Witnesses say masked gunmen used a submachine-gun in the attack, in which a bodyguard was also killed and another person seriously wounded.

At least one of the bullets hit Arkan in the head, going through his eye. He was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, but died a short time later.

Arkan, 47, was ambushed while sitting in the lobby of the Belgrade Intercontinental Hotel, according to unidentified staff. Other reports suggest he was outside when he was attacked. The gunmen escaped.

In March 1999, the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague revealed that it had indicted Arkan for atrocities committed during the war in Bosnia. The crimes allegedly took place in Bosnia and Croatia.

Arkan -- known for his long-time support of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic -- denied all charges against him, including accusations he ordered the massacre of 250 men at a hospital in Vukovar, Croatia, in 1991.

Arkan was the leader of a private militia called the Serbian Volunteer Guard, also known as the Tigers. They are believed to have committed atrocities against non-Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia.

In London, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said he was not shocked by the murder.

"Arkan lived violently so it is therefore no surprise that he died violently," Cook said in a statement.

"I regret his death because it prevents us doing justice to the victims of his atrocities by seeing him in the dock at The Hague war crimes tribunal," he added.