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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 01:53 GMT 02:53 UK
Yugoslavia falters on extradition law
The scene of a mass grave, in the village of Kacanik, Kosovo
It is not clear how many were killed during the Kosovo conflict
Yugoslav pro-democracy officials are deadlocked in efforts to bring Slobodan Milosevic to trial for alleged war crimes, failing to agree on a draft law enabling the former president's extradition.


I am very disappointed

Goran Svilanovic
Yugoslav Foreign Minister
The new authorities in Belgrade who replaced the Milosevic regime have been working on the draft allowing extradition of war crimes suspects like Mr Milosevic to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

But at talks in Belgrade late on Sunday, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and federal government members from Serbia failed to reach a definite agreement with their Montenegrin coalition partners, the Socialist Peoples' Party.

Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic is wanted by the war crimes tribunal
Instead, talks adjourned shortly before midnight, with Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic saying that "no deal was made".

He said that further consultations among Serbian and Montenegrin coalition partners were expected in the coming days.

"I am very disappointed," said Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic.

Talks will continue

As he left Predrag Bulatovic, head of the Montenegrin party, said there was "no need to over-dramatize the situation... talks will continue".

"We want cooperation with The Hague tribunal and we believe the law is possible but that it should not come down just to handover of Yugoslav citizens to The Hague court," he stressed.

The Yugoslav Prime Minister, Zoran Zizic, said he still believed a compromise could be found when talks resumed.

Correspondents say all parties accept that the country needs to co-operate with the UN tribunal in order to win backing at an international donor's conference to be held in Belgium on 29 June.

Under investigation

Mr Milosevic is now in a Belgrade prison, pending criminal investigations on a wide range of alleged wrongdoing.

The UN tribunal wants to try him for Kosovo war crimes, and last month Serbian police announced they have widened their investigations to encompass suspicions that Mr Milosevic ordered systematic destruction of evidence of Kosovo atrocities.

These include the 1999 dumping of a truck with the bodies of ethnic Albanians into the Danube River.

Exhumations

On Sunday Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihailovic said that the police had started exhumations at a mass-grave site where the 86 bodies were later reburied.

Prosecutors say the discovery of the bodies may begin to explain the whereabouts of thousands of Kosovo Albanians who disappeared without trace during the war.

Mr Mihailovic suggested there could be further similar mass graves.

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See also:

18 Apr 01 | Europe
Milosevic's life behind bars
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