NAIROBI, Kenya – A water-sports instructor was mistakenly arrested by Kenyan police who believed he was wanted for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Interpol and a spokeswoman for the Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal said Friday.
Kenyan police said they arrested the man at a luxury coastal resort outside the city of Mombasa Thursday after getting a tip that he was former Bosnian Serb army commander Gen. Ratko Mladic.
Staff members at the Whitesands Hotel told The Associated Press, however, that he was Croatian Igor Mejaski, who ran a water-sports shop at the hotel and had been in the country for many years. They said a group of plainclothes police arrived at the resort and arrested the man in the company of hotel management before whisking him away in a convoy of unmarked cars.
Mejaski's mother, Katica Mejaski, said in Croatia that he had been in Kenya for 23 years and has "nothing to do with the war or some war crimes."
She also said her son had recent health problems and coupled with a prospect of bad tourist season, "the last thing he needed is to be wrongly arrested as a war criminal."
Interpol said the man's fingerprints did not match Mladic's. Olga Kavran, spokeswoman for the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said that "the man arrested in Kenya was neither Mladic nor (Goran) Hadzic" the former Croatian Serb leader who is the only other remaining fugitive from the tribunal.
Kenyan police could not be immediately reached for comment.
Staff members at the Whitesands Hotel spoke on condition because they feared losing their jobs. Hotel management referred comments to the head of hotel security, who did not return calls.
Mladic, 67, is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is accused of masterminding the July 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Muslim men were killed by Serb forces.
Hadzic, 50, a former Croatian Serb leader, is wanted in connection with atrocities during the war in Croatia.
The tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands was established 15 years ago and has indicted 161 suspects.