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The BBC's Linda Duffin
"Mr Ivanic is in little doubt the new legislation will be passed"
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Bosnian Serb PM Mladen Ivanic
"We can't ignore the existence of this tribunal"
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Captain John Ruth, S-FOR spokesman
talks to the BBC about the role of S-FOR
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UN envoy Jacques Klein
"The West has still shown a certain impotence in this area"
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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Bosnian Serb suspects' fate in balance
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic (left) and president Radovan Karadzic in 1993
The whereabouts of Mladic and Karadzic are unknown
UN war crimes officials have said Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic must give more than a general commitment to arrest war-time leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

Mr Mladic is holding talks in The Hague with senior officials of the lnternational War Crimes Tribunal, as a debate rages over how to bring the republic's war crimes suspects to justice.

We need political will in Western capitals to amend S-For's mandate so that they go after the war criminals

UN envoy Jacques Klein
The UN special envoy for Bosnia-Hercegovina, Jacques Klein, told the BBC that Western governments had to show the political will to change the mandate of Nato-led peacekeepers S-For so that they could go after the suspects.

Currently their mandate is vague, and they need to be given the authority to act instead of merely arresting suspects as they come across them, he said.

Special police units would need to be set up to deal specifically with arrests, he added.

UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte
Del Ponte: Lack of arrests is a "scandal"
Mr Ivanic said on Wednesday that Mr Karadzic and General Mladic could be arrested if the country's parliament approves a new law on co-operation with the tribunal.

He added that he expected the law to pass through the republic's parliament within three weeks, before being implemented by the supreme court.

But he called for international help in apprehending the two men.

Whereabouts unknown

Mr Ivanic says he does not know the whereabouts of Mr Karadzic and General Mladic, who are the two most wanted suspects from the Bosnian conflict.

But a tibunal spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, said Bosnian Serb authorities did not just know where they are, but were in contact with them.

Mr Klein cast doubt on the prime minister's ability to get a result.

Ivanic called for international help in arresting suspects
"Ivanic's government is weak, his ministries are larded with Karadzic supporters, so it's not clear how effective he can be in catching Karadzic and Mladic," he said.

But Jean-Jacques Joris, aide to tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte, told Reuters news agency ahead of Mr Ivanic's meeting that action was needed by the Bosnian Serb authorities.

"The Republika Srpska has so far put everything in the way of such arrests," Mr Joris said.

Mr Karadzic and Mr Mladic are charged with genocide and other crimes against humanity - including the massacre of thousands of Muslim men from the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Mr Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb President, and Mr Mladic, his military commander, are widely believed to be on Bosnian Serb territory.

Mrs Del Ponte described it as scandalous that, six years after the end of the war in Bosnia, the two were still at large.

Lowering expectations

Bosnian Serb officials have played down the significance of Tuesday's government approval of the co-operation law.

And Pauline Neville Jones, the head of the UK delegation to the Dayton peace talks which ended the Bosnian war, told the BBC that she was inclined to believe Mr Ivanic's assertion that the republic could not bring suspects to justice on their own.

"In these highly divided societies where there is a lot of violence around, it takes a great deal of moral courage to do this," she said.

"That is not a justification, but partly an explanation of why these things haven't happened earlier.

"But I think they are now on the move."

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See also:

30 Jun 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
02 Jul 01 | Europe
Milosevic allies vulnerable
11 Aug 00 | Europe
Profile: Radovan Karadzic
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Profile: Ratko Mladic
05 Aug 00 | Europe
Mladic blamed for Bosnia massacre
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Serb 'Adolf' innocent of genocide
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Q&A: Who's next at The Hague?
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