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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
War crimes suspects agree surrender
Milan Martic and Radovan Karadzic
Martic (R) says he will hand himself in, but top suspect Karadzic remains elusive
Six of 23 war crimes suspects wanted by the international war crimes tribunal have agreed to surrender, according to the Yugoslav Government, which had ordered the men to hand themselves in or face arrest.

Wanted Yugoslav suspects
Vladimir Kovacevic, Milan Zec, Milan Milutinovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nikola Sainovic, Sredoje Lukic, Milan Lukic, Miroslav Radic, Milan Mrksic, Veselin Sljivancanin
Wanted non-Yugoslav suspects
Stojan Zupljanin, Ranko Cesic, Savo Todovic, Gojko Jankovic, Mitar Rasevic, Radovan Stankovic, Dragan Zelenovic, Zeljko Mejakic, Vinko Pandurevic, Momcilo Gruban, Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Milan Martic

The six do not include two of the most wanted men on the list - Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic.

But they do include the former Yugoslav army chief, General Dragoljub Ojdanic, and the former Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, Nikola Sainovic. Both are wanted by the international tribunal in The Hague in connection with atrocities in Kosovo.

The others are Milan Martic, Mile Mrksic and Vladimir Kovacevic, indicted for war crimes in Croatia, and Momcilo Gruban, a Bosnian Serb indicted for war crimes committed in Bosnia.

Theory and practice

In theory, the remaining 17 who have failed to make contact with the authorities should now be tracked down and extradited, but correspondents in Belgrade says the process may well be drawn out.

The extradition process, if the suspects are detained, will take up to nine days, with scope for at least two appeals.

Serbian President Milan Milutinovic
On wanted list: Serbian President Milan Milutinovic
A committee of lawyers has also lodged an appeal with the Yugoslav Constitutional Court, which could delay any extraditions for six weeks.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said the suspects - about 20 people - would be handed over to The Hague within three weeks.

"We have to be realistic and not to provoke new crises and new injustices and new war crimes by trying to deal with history and with old crimes," Mr Djindjic said in London.

Mr Djinjic also said that Serbia's police force was insufficiently equipped to track down the most wanted suspects, Mr Karadzic and Mr Mladic, both of whom are in hiding.

"There are rumours Mladic was in Belgrade months ago, but we don't have any evidence and it is very difficult to act."

Earlier this year, two operations by Nato-led peacekeepers failed to catch Mr Karadzic in south-eastern Bosnia.

The law enabling the authorities to send people accused of atrocities during the Balkan wars of the 1990s to The Hague was adopted by the Yugoslav parliament earlier this month, but the issue remains hugely controversial in Serbia, where many believe the international court is biased.

The United States has however been exerting heavy pressure on Belgrade.

Washington effectively froze $40m of aid after the Yugoslav authorities failed to meet a 31 March deadline to act against war crimes suspects.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Belgrade
"It looks as though Serbia is prepared to hand over suspects to the tribunal"
See also:

17 Apr 02 | Europe
Hague's wanted men
14 Apr 02 | Europe
Top Serb suspect dies
12 Apr 02 | Media reports
Former Serbian minister's suicide note
13 Apr 02 | Europe
Hague suspects go to ground
21 Mar 02 | Europe
Del Ponte calls for snatch squad
01 Mar 02 | Europe
Karadzic slips Nato net again
01 Mar 02 | Europe
The race to catch Karadzic
28 Feb 02 | Europe
Nato's Karadzic hunt draws blank
12 Mar 02 | Europe
The Hague looms over the Balkans
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