Camilla lauds Croatia group helping wartime rape victims


Zagreb (AFP)

The wife of Britain's heir to the throne Tuesday praised a group caring for wartime rape victims as she accompanied Prince Charles on an official visit to Croatia.

"You did the right thing, you encouraged the women to break the silence, seek help and legal protection," state-run HINA news agency quoted Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as telling activists in the eastern town of Osijek.

Camilla, a staunch campaigner against sexual violence, arrived in Croatia on Monday with Prince Charles for a six-day tour that will also take the royal couple to Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

Up to 50,000 rapes are estimated to have taken place during the wars that accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The victims, mainly Bosnian Muslim women, have largely been neglected, although Croatia did last year adopt a law on compensating victims of sexual violence committed during its 1991-1995 independence war.

Prince Charles meanhile attended a meeting with religious leaders in Osijek on the role of inter-faith dialogue in restoring peace and reconciliation.

The prince will later see them lay a wreath in Belgrade to remember British, Commonwealth and Serbian soldiers who fought in World War I.

In Kosovo, the last stop of the visit, he will take part in a memorial ceremony for those missing since the Kosovo war of 1998-1999.

This is Charles' ninth official visit to the region but the first for Camilla.