Three Bosnian Croats arrested over wartime rape

Three Bosnian Croats, suspected to have raped Serb women at the beginning of the 1992-95 inter-ethnic war in Bosnia, were arrested on Monday, war crime prosecutors said.

The suspects, members of the Bosnian Croat armed forces during the war, were arrested in the northeastern region of Odzak, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"They are suspected to have raped a number of victims, women of Serb nationality, between June and August 1992 in the region of Odzak," the statement said.

"They are suspected to have committed war crimes against the civilian population," it added, giving no further details.

According to a local association of Serb victims, Odzak 92, members of the Bosnian Croat forces raped some 60 women aged between 10 and 60 in early months of the conflict.

Two rape victims, who were 14 and 17 years old in 1992, criticised the impunity of perpetrators and demanded that they be brought to justice in an appeal in 2011.

For a long time after the war in Bosnia, cases of mass wartime rapes were given a low priority by investigators despite estimates that at least 20,000 women, mostly Muslims, were sexually assaulted during the conflict.

Up to now, only 33 people have been convicted for these crimes in Bosnia, along with 30 others at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie last month chose Bosnia to launch her international appeal aimed at ending rape as a weapon of war.

Jolie dealt with war crimes and violence against women during Bosnia's war in her 2011 directorial debut, "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

War in Bosnia claimed some 100,000 lives and displaced two million people, almost half the country's pre-war population.