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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Serbia denies hiding war criminals
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic (left) and president Radovan Karadzic in 1993
Mr Mladic and Mr Karadzic are on the most-wanted list
Serbia's Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, has denied that the indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic is known to be hiding in Serbia.


We do not know his whereabouts, he is not our citizen and the Serbian government does not have jurisdiction over this case

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic
Mr Djindjic rejected Tuesday's comments by the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, that General Mladic's whereabouts were known and that he should be handed over for trial at The Hague.

Nonetheless, Mrs Del Ponte said on Wednesday she hoped for more details on General Mladic's location when she meets the head of the Nato-led stabilisation force in Bosnia later in the day.

General Michael Dobson, the outgoing commander of the international S-For troops in Bosnia, indicated on Tuesday that he knew where General Mladic and the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic were holed up.

Hague tactics

"Our information is that he is here and so we need co-operation to locate him, arrest him and transfer him to The Hague," Mrs Del Ponte said in Belgrade after meeting Serbian Government officials on Tuesday.

Zoran Djindjic
Zoran Djindjic: "surprised" by Del Ponte's comments
But Mr Djindjic, who took part in Tuesday's meeting, said he was "a little surprised" by her comments.

"We do not know his whereabouts, he is not our citizen and the Serbian Government does not have jurisdiction over this case," he told Belgrade's B92 radio.

He suggested that Mrs Del Ponte's words were part of the UN's wider gameplan for capturing the Hague's most wanted war criminals.

"I think the Hague court has its own tactics and that it was more like a message for Mladic, a message meant to provoke a reaction," he told B92.

'Difficult to arrest'

On Tuesday, S-For gave the clearest statement yet that it is able to keep track of Mr Karadzic and General Mladic.

"These men do not reside in Bosnia. They do come into Bosnia, but often times they come in quickly and exit quickly and that makes them very difficult to apprehend," General Dobson said, though he refused to be specific about the men's whereabouts.

The UN tribunal indicted the two men six years ago for their role in the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in the town of Srebrenica.

General Mladic was seen in Belgrade before former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was ousted.

Mr Karadzic is rumoured to be spending time in south-east Bosnia, or Montenegro.

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