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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Milosevic trial a 'political risk'
The BBC's  Tim Sebastian met Zoran Djindjic
The BBC's Tim Sebastian met Zoran Djindjic
The Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic has admitted that his government took a "political risk" in sending the former Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes.

Mr Djindjic who played a key role in ousting Mr Milosevic from power in October 2000 told Tim Sebastian in an interview for BBC HARDtalk that the decision had encroached on government plans to implement new reforms in Serbia.

"We split the ruling coalition and we postponed reforms," he said.

"To implement reforms you need massive support by the people, you need clear ideas and goals and you need a strong leadership and we don't have this strong leadership because we are split on two parts.

"One is for past reforms and the other part because of the Hague tribunal."

Genocide charges

Zoran Djindjic came to power following the success of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition in the elections in 2001.


It was an opportunity for Milosevic to continue his propaganda.

Zoran Djindjic
Mr Djindjic was assigned to the role of premier following a pre-election agreement amongst the leaders of the 18 party DOS coalition.

His government decided to hand Mr Milosevic over to the international tribunal in June last year where he will face charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.

Propaganda

Despite his role in bringing Mr Milosevic to justice, Mr Djindjic has condemned the proceedings as an expensive "circus".

In the interview, he continued to express doubt about the early stages of the trial.

"First impression was it was an opportunity for Milosevic to continue his propaganda," he said.

The Serbian Prime Minister also claimed that he would like to see Mira Markovic, the wife of Mr Milosevic arrested and forced to stand trial.

Slobodan Milosevic
Milosevic has been accused of war crimes
However he denied that it was his responsibility to ensure this happens, claiming "I don't want to interfere with this process".

On the other hand, he did continue to maintain his pledge to send indicted war crime suspects to the Hague within weeks.

His promise comes after members of the federal parliament in Belgrade voted to allow the extradition of suspects to The Hague tribunal.

Protection

The Yugoslav authorities have issued a list of 23 war crimes suspects are wanted by the war crimes tribunal, threatening to arrest them if they do not hand themselves in.

These include Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic.

Mr Djindjic also revealed that in the current climate in Serbia, he has taken extra security measures to protect his personal safety from the growing threat of paramilitary organisations and the rise in organised crime.

"I'm concerned about the paramilitary. I know they exist," he said.

You can hear the HARDtalk interview in full at the following times:

BBC News 26 (times shown in GMT)
26 April 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT)
26 April10430, repeated 1130, 1630, 1930, 0030

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Zoran Djindjic
"We split the ruling coalition and we postponed reforms."
See also:

01 Apr 02 | Europe
Bosnia genocide suspect arrested
27 Mar 02 | Europe
Serbia signals move on war crimes
19 Feb 02 | Europe
Kostunica attacks Milosevic trial
12 Apr 02 | Europe
The Hague's wanted men
11 Feb 02 | Europe
Milosevic allies still at large
12 Feb 02 | Europe
Q&A: Milosevic trial
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