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The BBC's Fiona Werge reports
"A breakthrough in relations between the Bosnian Serb government and the Hague"
 real 56k

Spokesman for SFOR, Colonel John Wilson
"We still have no idea of Karadzic or Mladic's location"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Bosnian Serbs face tribunal pressure
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic and president Radovan Karadzic confer in a 1993 file photo
Mr Mladic and Mr Karadzic are on the most-wanted list
Bosnian Serb leaders are coming under increasing pressure to pursue war crimes suspects, notably the war-time leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic, who will lead a delegation to the Hague tribunal on Thursday, told the BBC that the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic had changed the situation in the Balkans.

The Bosnian Serb entity was now the only part of the former Yugoslavia to be seen as not co-operating with the war crimes tribunal, he said.

On Tuesday, the Bosnian Serb Government passed a law on co-operation with the tribunal, but it is expected to face a challenge getting it through parliament.

Most wanted

Two of the UN's most wanted figures - Mr Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb President and Mr Mladic, his military commander - are believed to be on Bosnian Serb territory.

UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte
Del Ponte: Lack of arrests is a scandal
UN prosecutor Carla Del Ponte described it as scandalous that, six years after the end of the war in Bosnia, the two were still at large.

They are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Of the 37 war crimes suspects publicly indicted by the tribunal, 26 are believed to be in the Bosnian Serb republic, Republika Srpska.

'Obligation'

Announcing government approval of the co-operation law, Bosnian Serb Justice Minister Biljana Maric described its passage as "an obligation".


We should not expect anything spectacular in terms of co-operation

Bosnian Serb President Mirko Sarovic
She said that Republika Srpska would "undertake investigations, provide proof of crimes and issue a wanted list".

But she did not say that Bosnian Serb police would actually arrest war crimes suspects.

There has been international frustration with Bosnian Serb refusal to arrest suspects. The only arrest in the territory this year was carried out by the Nato-lead Stabilisation Force, S-for.

But Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Ivanic said the international community shared responsibility for arresting suspects.

He said that there were some 20,000 Nato troops in Bosnia, while the republic had only about 8,000 police officers.

Lowering expectations

Bosnian Serb President Mirko Sarovic played down the significance of Tuesday's government approval of the co-operation law.

"We should not expect anything spectacular in terms of co-operation," Mr Sarovic said, adding that co-operation "has anyway improved lately".

Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic
Mr Milosevic was defiant
The Bosnian Serb parliament, dominated by nationalists, may not approve the law.

A BBC correspondent in the Balkans, Alix Kroeger, says the political spectrum in parliament ranges from moderate nationalist to hardline nationalist.

She says that politicians supporting the extradition of Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects could face a backlash from voters.

Prime Minister Ivanic told the BBC he was still waiting for the UN tribunal to pursue suspects accused of crimes against Serbs.

Milosevic

He said it was a coincidence that his government approved the co-operation law on the same day that Mr Milosevic first appeared before the court in The Hague.

The former Yugoslav president made a brief and dramatic appearance and denounced the proceedings, which were promptly adjourned.

"I consider this tribunal a false tribunal and the indictments false indictments," Mr Milosevic said.

Judge Richard May
Judge May ignored Milosevic's objections
The presiding judge, Richard May of Britain, ignored his objections.

When Judge May asked him if he wanted to hear all the charges against him, Mr Milosevic replied in English: "That's your problem."

He refused to enter a plea and continued arguing against the legal status of the court.

The trial was adjourned until 27 August - an automatic procedure in cases where the defendant refuses to enter a plea.

Click here to read the transcript of the hearing

Both sides are now expected to spend months preparing their cases for a trial which could take years.

Mr Milosevic is accused of having ultimate responsibility for the mass deportation of 740,000 Kosovo Albanians and for the murder of hundreds of individually named Albanians, said to have been committed by Serb soldiers and militias.

Further charges are also being drawn up against him relating to the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the early 1990s which led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

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See also:

02 Jul 01 | Europe
Milosevic allies vulnerable
30 Jun 01 | Europe
Serbs adjust to new reality
30 Jun 01 | Europe
Analysis: Milosevic's legacy
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