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Serb: "We could kill as long as we liked'

Police arrested a bitter former Serb soldier Thursday after he told reporters he killed up to 80 Croats and Muslims, decapitating some and selling their ears as souvenirs.

Slobodan Misic said he came forward because he "had enough of the lies" that Serbia was not fighting its neighbors.

Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has always said he had nothing to do with either the Croatian or Bosnian war.

"The truth has to be told," the Dnevni Telegraf newspaper and the independent Beta news agency quoted Misic as saying in reports published Thursday.

Police in the southern Serbia town of Vranje, where Misic lives, said he was arrested Thursday and was being questioned. A prosecutor was expected to place him in investigative detention, where suspects can remain for weeks before they are charged.

Misic's story could not be independently verified, but it contained the names of commanders and units known to have been fighting in the region. It was the most detailed story on atrocities to come out of Serbia.

His public confession came two months after a similar account of atrocities was published in Croatia.

Former soldier Miro Bajramovic told the Croatian weekly Feral Tribune that he killed 72 people while fighting for Croatia in 1991 and was responsible for the deaths of 14 others.

He was arrested soon after his story was published.

Bajramovic's accusations, which tied high-ranking officials to the killings, have been a source of heated debate for months among Croats, who are accustomed to seeing themselves as victims in the war.

Both Misic and Bajramovic said they were tired of high officials glossing over the truth and were bitter that they did the war's dirty work and ended up destitute, while others got rich.

Nicknamed "Cannon," the 50-year-old Misic was quoted as saying that he volunteered to join regular troops from Serbia who fought in Croatia, and later moved on to Bosnia.

He said he killed 70 to 80 people, including women and captured soldiers, while fighting around the besieged eastern Croatian town of Vukovar and in the Bratunac-Srebrenica area of eastern Bosnia.

"It's like a drug," Misic said. "It enters your blood and brain, and you simply can't live without it."

He said he decapitated two Muslims in Bosnia and stuck their heads on a wooden fence, then killed six Muslims who came to collect the heads that night. He was quoted as saying he sold the ears of his victims as souvenirs for $30 each.

Serb soldiers were not punished for killing prisoners of war, Misic said. "We could kill as long as we liked," he said. "No one would say a word."

Cohen: no consensus yet on Bosnia mission

WASHINGTON _ Defense Secretary William Cohen said Thursday it would take some time to develop a U.S. stand on the form of an international presence in Bosnia after the current military mission ends next June.

His cautious remarks contrasted with a statement by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday that a consensus was emerging among U.S. leaders to keep U.S. troops in Bosnia past the deadline.

Cohen told reporters there was a consensus among the administration and congressional leaders only that "some form of international presence will be required."