Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Briefly Noted ...

By Chris Stephen in The Hague (TU 306, 24-28 March 2003)
By IWPR

"For the third day I'm saying I have no comment," said tribunal prosecution spokesperson Florence Hartmann, asked about reports from Belgrade that former Red Beret commander Milorad "legija" Lukovic wants to give evidence in return for immunity from prosecution.


Dutch national radio has quoted the former commander of the interior ministry special operations unit as saying, "Give me a new name, a passport and a country of residence and I'll tell you where Karadzic and Mladic are hiding."


Lukovic is currently on the run from Serb police, suspected of involvement in the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.


There are also rumours in Belgrade that he is himself secretly indicted by The Hague for war crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo.


His offer, if genuine, would pose a dilemma for prosecutors: on the one hand, it would be the end of his case; on the other, it would deliver the two men they most want.


The probability is the offer will be rejected. Firstly, judges would have to agree to any such deal being done - and this is unlikely.Secondly, the mood of Hague officials is that sooner or later both Karadzic and Mladic will be arrested.


Serbia has already slammed the door on any domestic immunity deal.


Bosko Ristic, chairman of Serbian parliament's administration committee, said April 2 that this was out of the question because Legija was suspected of serious offences - and had to put on trial to show that Belgrade was serious about stamping out crime.


But he said he could not comment on the tribunal.


KARADZIC WATCH


NATO helicopters were in the air over the Bosnian Serb capital, Pale, this week, while on the ground, SFOR Italian troops were checking all vehicles going in and out of nearby towns.


SFOR insists the checks are routine, but they have prompted speculation that the alliance is having another go at trying to catch Karadzic, one of The Hague's most wanted fugitives.


SERBIA REFORMS HAGUE LAW


Belgrade is to modify its law on cooperation with The Hague to allow easier transfer of suspects.


Parliament will be asked to approve a change to the existing law, with Article 39, which limits the power to send indictees to the tribunal, removed.


MILOSEVIC READY


Slobodan Milosevic said he is ready to be interviewed by Belgrade investigators looking into the discovery of the body of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolic.


Stambolic, the defendant's onetime mentor, went missing three years ago - his body was found on a hillside last week.


Since then, Belgrade police have begun a hunt for Mira Markovic, Milosevic's wife, reported to be in Russia and refusing to come home to answer charges of involvement in the killing.


FORMER KLA COMMANDER ARRESTED


Former KLA officer Fatmir Mahmeti was arrested by American KFOR troops this week. He is accused of jeopardising peace and security.


Mahmeti is vice president of the Kosovo Society of War Veterans, a representative of which said the arrest was politically motivated.


SEX IN THE HAGUE


Among facilities available to prisoners at The Hague detention centre is a special room reserved for conjugal visits by defendants' partners.


Just who uses the room is a closely guarded secret. "It is for those with long established relationships, you can't phone out for a call girl," one Hague official told me.


Chris Stephen is IWPR's project manager in The Hague


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