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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 17:04 GMT
Serbia 'to give up Hague suspects'
Slobodan Milosevic at the war crimes tribunal
Serbia is under pressure to hand over more suspects
Serbia is ready to hand over war crimes suspects to the Hague tribunal within the next few days, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic has said.

He was speaking ahead of a deadline on Sunday for Belgrade to show it is co-operating with the tribunal or risk losing millions in US aid.

If we do not co-operate, we could face international isolation and US sanctions, literally within days

Serbian prime minister
More than 10 people indicted by the war crimes tribunal are believed to be in Serbia, including the wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic.

Under similar pressure last year, the Serbian Government arrested former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic who is now on trial.

Mr Djindjic's government defied the Yugoslav Constitutional Court on Wednesday by reinstating a decree enabling Serbia to extradite war crimes suspects.

The decision to re-adopt the statute came a day after the court - which is dominated by Serbian nationalists - annulled all previous decrees allowing co-operation with the tribunal.

Facing reality

Mr Djindjic told a news conference in Belgrade that some of those indicted could be delivered to the Hague "within three to four days".

Milosevic supporters in Belgrade earlier this month
Belgrade is accused of not facing up to the role its armed forces played
"If we do not co-operate, we could face international isolation and US sanctions, literally within days.

"This is the reality we face. Whether it happens in a couple of days, five days or ten is not that important. But happen it must, and we must once and for all make it clear whether we want to become part of the world or not, " the prime minister said.

But he also suggested that the US might be flexible over the deadline and not impose sanctions immediately.

Among those wanted by The Hague are four senior Milosevic associates indicted with him, including the Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.

Rifts continue

The decision to extradite Mr Milosevic last June led to deep rifts within the Belgrade leadership. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica made it clear he saw the war crimes tribunal as a political institution, which was biased against the Serbs.
Zoran Djindjic
Mr Djindjic and his allies advocate co-operation with the tribunal

Mr Kostunica told state television on Wednesday that Yugoslavia had to co-operate with the Hague, however loathsome this was for him.

Western human rights groups and Serbia's neighbours say the country has failed to face up to the role its forces played in the break-up of the old Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The US Congress has given Yugoslavia until Sunday to co-operate with the Hague tribunal or risk losing $120 m in financial assistance.

The BBC's Paul Anderson reports from Belgrade
"None of the suspects still sheltering here is viewed with any great affection by the public"
See also:

27 Mar 02 | Europe
Serbia signals move on war crimes
19 Feb 02 | Europe
Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
11 Feb 02 | Europe
Milosevic allies still at large
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Q&A: Milosevic trial
30 Aug 01 | Europe
Milosevic to face genocide charge
03 Aug 01 | Europe
War crimes: The ethnic balance
30 Jun 01 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
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