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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 18:33 GMT
Serbs hand over war crimes suspect
Bosnian detention camp
Prisoners in Bosnia's detention camps suffered great cruelty
Serbian police have, for the first time, arrested and handed over a war crimes suspect to the international tribunal in the Hague.

Milomir Stakic, the former Bosnian Serb mayor of Prijedor, is facing genocide charges over his alleged role in setting up some of Bosnia's most notorious detention camps.

This is a concrete example of co-operation from the authorities in Belgrade

Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale
He was arrested in Belgrade and is being flown to the Hague.

Serbia risks losing millions of dollars of American aid if it does not improve its links with the tribunal, whose highest-profile suspect remains ex-President Slobodan Milosevic.

Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale said Mr Stakic was allegedly involved in planning, organising and implementing the camps at Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje in 1992 and 1993.

"This is a concrete example of co-operation from the authorities in Belgrade and is hopefully the start of a process leading to the transfer of all individuals indicted by the tribunal currently residing on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," Mr Landale said.

Damir Dosen
Damir Dosen is already on trial for allegedly running one of the camps
Earlier this week three Bosnian Serb commanders went on trial in the Hague accused of running the Keraterm camp, where hundreds of prisoners were tortured or killed.

Belgrade has refused to extradite Yugoslav nationals, but has said non-Yugoslav citizens might be turned over.

The news of Mr Stakic's arrest came as Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic returned from a visit to Washington, saying he hoped Serbia was making progress in its relationship with the tribunal.

We deserve the chance to try to clear up our political past

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic
But Mr Djindjic said Mr Milosevic would not be extradited to the tribunal by the end of this month, a deadline set by the US Congress.

He reiterated his view that the former president should be tried at home.

"We deserve the chance to try to clear up our political past," he said.

Serbia stands to lose $100m in desperately needed US aid, as well as backing in international financial institutions, if it fails to convince Congress that it is fulfilling a list of demands including co-operation with the tribunal.

One concession Mr Djindjic did agree to in Washington was to cut loose the Bosnian-Serb army from the Yugoslav army.

From the end of May, 1,700 Bosnian-Serb officers will no longer receive their salaries from Belgrade.

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See also:

19 Mar 01 | Europe
Bosnian Serbs go on trial
14 Jan 00 | Europe
Analysis: Big fish still at large
14 Oct 00 | Europe
Bosnia war: Main players
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