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Del Ponte hopes for Mladic arrest

Mladic, above, and Karadzic are U.N. war crimes tribunal's most wanted suspects
Mladic, above, and Karadzic are U.N. war crimes tribunal's most wanted suspects  

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The U.N.'s chief war crimes prosecutor has said she believes wartime Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic is in Yugoslavia.

Carla Del Ponte said Mladic should be arrested and handed over to the Dutch-based tribunal.

Earlier on Tuesday, the outgoing head of the NATO stabilisation force in Bosnia said he knew the whereabouts of Mladic and ex-Bosnian political leader Radovan Karadzic.

The spokesman of SFOR, Captain Daryl Morrell, quoting Lieutenant General Michael Dodson added that it was "only a matter of time" before the wartime leaders were arrested.

graphicSrebrenica: Five days of evil

  • Survivor's Story
  • Gallery
  • Massacre background
  • Rebuilding Srebrenica
  • Prayers for the dead
  • Grief of the widows
  • Mass grave found
  • War crimes defendants
  • Profile: Radko Mladic
  • Profile: Radovan Karadzic


Karadzic and Mladic are "moving in and out of Bosnia," although he would not reveal their exact whereabouts, he added.

Karadzic, the ex-political leader, and Mladic, the ex-military chief, have been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for their role in the Bosnian war between 1991 and 1995, most notably for the massacre of an estimated 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Reuters reported that Del Ponte said she had discussed Mladic during her first visit to Belgrade since Serbia's new reformist leadership in June sent ousted Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague.

Asked whether the Serbian government had promised to cooperate on the extradition of Mladic, she said: "Yes, they will cooperate, we had discussion on cooperation."

"We spoke about the fugitive, the accused Mladic, because our information is that he is here and so we need cooperation to locate him, arrest him and transfer him to The Hague," she told reporters before flying to neighbouring Bosnia.

Serbian officials were not immediately available to comment on her remarks made at the end of a one-day visit to Belgrade.

Slobodan Milosevic
The U.N. prosector wants others to join Milosevic in the dock  

In February, Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said Mladic, seen in the capital during the final years of the Milosevic era, no longer lived in Belgrade.

Captain Morrell told CNN: "General Dodson said that it was only a matter of time before they are arrested by officials in Macedonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or agencies inside of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Once detained, these people will be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia." Morrell emphasised that while SFOR's mandate is to maintain a safe and stable environment for Bosnia, having war criminals on the loose was not "compatible" with that goal.

It is the first time SFOR has acknowledged knowing the whereabouts of the two Bosnian Serb leaders.

Earlier, Del Ponte said Albanian leaders in Kosovo may be indicted for crimes against ethnic Serbs.

Del Ponte was in the Yugoslav capital with a "shopping list" of 15 key Serb war crimes suspects.

Following talks with Yugoslav government officials, however, she said the Hague tribunal was also considering charging ethnic Albanians with crimes committed against minority Serbs in Kosovo after it came under international control in 1999.

"We are investigating crimes committed after June 1999 in Kosovo," she said in a statement reported by Reuters. She said that she was concentrating on crimes with Serb victims.

Chief on her list is Serbian figurehead president Milan Milutinovic, who with Milosevic and three other leaders of the former Belgrade regime was indicted by U.N. prosecutors for their role in the 1998-99 conflict with ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Del Ponte
Del Ponte: on her way to Sarajevo  

As well as Milutinovic, former army chief of staff Col. Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic, former Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic and former Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic were also indicted.

All four live openly in Belgrade despite the indictments.

After Milosevic was ousted, Milutinovic was allowed to remain president of Serbia as long as he refrained from appearing in public or exerting influence.

Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic told independent B-92 radio: "Del Ponte can demand whatever she wants, but the Serbian government doesn't have to discuss it."

Del Ponte's spokeswoman Florence Hartmann responded by saying: "The obligation of the state of Yugoslavia is for Mr. Milutinovic and all the indictees living on the territory of Yugoslavia to be transferred to the Hague.

"There is no immunity before the international tribunal and it does not protect him."

It seems likely Del Ponte's decision to investigate Albanian war crimes will help soften the stance of the Serbia's rulers.

They have often accused leaders of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of committing atrocities against Serbs following the withdrawal of the Serb Army in 1999.

Albanian leaders dismissed Del Ponte's accusations. Former KLA leader Ramush Haradinaj told Reuters his troops had merely been fighting against Serbian "terror, genocide and repression."

Meanwhile, a Bosnian Serb who served as a camp guard pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a crime against humanity at the U.N. war crimes tribunal after prosecutors agreed to drop additional charges.

Judges at the tribunal in The Hague accepted the guilty plea from Dragan Kolundzija for the confinement of Muslims and Croats in "inhumane conditions" at the Keraterm camp in Prijedor, Bosnia in 1992, said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.

Under the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop two other charges of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war.

Prosecutors also agreed to recommend judges sentence Kolundzija to a prison term of three to five years.

He was the fourth person to plead guilty to war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

• International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
• Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave
• Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina

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