Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

THE blood­i­est car­nage to blight Europe since the Third Re­ich was with­out doubt the handi­work of the Ser­bian Vol­un­teer Guard, AKA Arkan’s Tigers.

Just like the Nazi sol­diers, the Tigers were ag­gres­sive, heart­less, ruth­less and took a grue­somely bru­tal ap­proach to eth­nic cleans­ing.

But in con­trast to Adolf Hitler, their war­lord leader was much more hands-on when it came to car­ry­ing out some of the most in­hu­mane acts of vi­o­lence imag­in­able.

By the time the war broke out in Yu­goslavia, Zeljko Raz­na­tovic – or Arkan – was wanted in six Euro­pean coun­tries for rob­bery and for mur­der in Ger­many.

He’d shot his way out of a Swedish court, es­caped from a Bel­gian jail and spent two years liv­ing in Lon­don.

A mem­ber of the Yu­goslav se­cu­rity ser­vice, he was also one of a small num­ber of Serbs trusted by tyrant Slo­bo­dan Milo­se­vic and was un­der strict or­ders to kill rebel Croa­t­ians.

In­tent on slaugh­ter­ing his en­e­mies in cold blood, Arkan as­sem­bled his unit in 1990, re­cruit­ing thugs from jails and foot­ball hooli­gans be­long­ing to Red Star Bel­grade’s no­to­ri­ous Ul­tras.

Equipped with an ar­moury of weapons, tanks and he­li­copters, given to them by Ser­bian po­lice, when the war broke out in Croa­tia in 1991 the 10,000 Tigers were ready for ac­tion.

Mem­bers of the unit tore through dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­ries in Croa­tia and Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina, re­port­edly mas­sacring hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple.

Led by Arkan, they swept into un­sus­pect­ing towns, vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties – raping, beat­ing, tor­tur­ing and mur­der­ing.

Of­fi­cially, the Tigers dis­banded in 1996, when Arkan – who was wanted by In­ter­pol on charges of war crimes and geno­cide – or­dered his loyal troops to join the Yu­goslav Army and po­lice to aid the fight against Mus­lim Al­ba­ni­ans in Kosovo.

Arkan was even­tu­ally in­dicted by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal For The Former Yu­goslavia in 1997 as his para­mil­i­tary unit was charged with crimes against hu­man­ity and eth­nic cleans­ing.

Charges in­cluded the mas­sacre in a Croa­t­ian town of 250 hospi­tal pa­tients and staff, killing 65 peo­ple in a re­mote vil­lage, raping a Mus­lim woman on a bus and hold­ing cap­tive 35 men in a minis­cule room and starv­ing them, re­sult­ing in two deaths.

Arkan was as­sas­si­nated in 2000 in the lobby of a Bel­grade ho­tel.

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