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

Prosecutor Ups Pressure on Belgrade

(TU No 436, 20-Jan-06)
Six people are still on the run from the tribunal, including former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic and ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, both charged with genocide.

According to prosecution sources, five of the six, including Mladic and Karadzic, are in Serbia, said Hartmann.

Del Ponte this week set a new deadline - June 2006 - for Mladic’s transfer to the tribunal. The EU warned Serbia that moves towards eventual membership could be suspended if they fail to hand Mladic over.

The chief prosecutor was in Brussels this week to brief NATO's secretary general on efforts to track down the remaining fugitives and EU officials about Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal.

Del Ponte accused elements in the Serbian army of sheltering Mladic.

"Mladic is in Serbia, and as you know, Mladic is protected with power of the army," she said after her meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Rehn told the press that suspending negotiations was an option if Belgrade did not cooperate.

He warned it would be extremely difficult for the EU to conclude an association agreement with Belgrade unless General Mladic and other wanted war crimes suspects were handed over. The agreement itself will be seen as a precursor to candidate status, and the first step along the road to full EU membership.

"The suspension of negotiations is certainly one alternative... Serbia has to choose now between the nationalist past and a European future. I hope they choose the European future," said Rehn.

The Serbia and Montenegro defence minister, Zoran Stankovic, has insisted that Belgrade is still looking for Mladic, according to an Associated Press report this week.

He said he had recently met Mladic's wife and son.

"The operation to catch Mladic is under way... All available army personnel are engaged in this," he said.

The Serbian daily Blic says Mladic may be arranging an agreement for turning himself in to the Hague tribunal from a foreign country.

Citing sources close to the tribunal, Blic writes that the Serbian government may be making a deal with Mladic for an agreement to secure his family and staff financially with a sum of five million US dollars.

Police in the Republika Srpska this week conducted an unsuccessful hunt in the region of Zepa in eastern Bosnia for a "Hague indictee" but would not confirm whether it was Mladic or Karadzic.

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