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The BBC's Mike Donkin at the UN in New York
"The UN's special prosecutor has called this good news"
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Elizabeth Anderson from US based Human Rights Watch
"The real test is his transfer to the Hague"
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Friday, 11 May, 2001, 01:46 GMT 02:46 UK
Prosecutor upbeat on Milosevic trial
Carla del Ponte (left) with US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Carla del Ponte said she was very grateful for US support
The UN's Special Prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, says she is optimistic that Slobodan Milosevic will stand trial in The Hague for war crimes.

Mrs del Ponte has demanded that Belgrade hand over the former Yugoslav president and other war crimes suspects for trial in The Hague without delay.

Speaking after meetings with senior US officials in Washington, she said she believed the Bush administration's efforts to persuade Belgrade to hand over Mr Milosevic would have positive results.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic has become a sticking point

"I'm expecting a concrete result. So let's hope that finally the co-operation can start with Yugoslavia," she said.

Earlier, the Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica, said he would push the Yugoslav parliament to adopt a new law needed to allow Mr Milosevic to be sent before the international tribunal.

Although Mr Milosevic would still face trial in Belgrade first, that law should be drafted by the end of the month.

US support conditional

Mr Kostunica has just returned from the United States, where President George W Bush made it clear that US support for Yugoslavia depended on Belgrade's willingness to extradite Mr Milosevic.

The former Yugoslav president is being held in a Belgrade prison on fraud charges.

Vojislav Kostunica
Vojislav Kostunica wants a Milosevic trial in Belgrade first

Mrs del Ponte said nobody could tell her when Mr Milosevic might be transferred to The Hague. But it was just a matter of time, she added.

She said she was "very grateful" for US support for her campaign to get Mr Milosevic and other alleged war criminals transferred to The Hague.

Mrs del Ponte added that there were still 38 "fugitives from her tribunal" at large in Serbia, and in the Bosnian Serb republic - among them former leaders like Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic.

She said recent violence there, such as a protest at the rebuilding of the Banja Luka mosque, could well be linked with these fugitives.

Donors' conference

Yugoslavia hopes to have US backing for a donors' conference tentatively planned for June, at which Belgrade hopes to raise $1bn.

Mr Kostunica said that passing the extradition law might not be enough to assure US support.

The UN war crimes tribunal has indicted Mr Milosevic and other Serbs for crimes allegedly committed in 1999 by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

Possible change

Mr Kostunica's latest comments may have marked a change in policy.

Since Mr Milosevic was arrested on 1 April, President Kostunica has maintained that he must be tried at home for corruption and abuse of power before anyone else has a chance to prosecute him.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell approved the release of $100m in US aid to Yugoslavia after Mr Milosevic was arrested.

But he has reserved support for the planned donors' conference.

Yugoslavia's economy was destroyed by war and sanctions during 13 years of rule by Mr Milosevic.

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02 Apr 01 | Europe
US approves Yugoslav aid
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