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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK


World: Europe

Belgrade: Indictment is Nato trick

The indictment will stop Mr Milosevic travelling abroad

By Michael Williams in Belgrade

The authorities here appear to have decided that the fact the country's president has been indicted for war crimes, along with four of his senior aides, is of little consequence.

Kosovo: Special Report
A crowd at the army press centre waiting for an official response heard government minister Goran Matic complain about Nato propaganda, about the motives of the BBC correspondents in Belgrade, and about the growing problem of tuberculosis among Yugoslav civilians.

Eventually, when prompted by a question on the subject, Mr Matic dismissed the indictment as a propaganda trick by which Nato aimed to postpone a political solution to the conflict.

He said the war crimes tribunal was nothing but a private political court controlled by the American secretary of state, their spokesman, and by Nato's supreme commander.

Extradition

President Milosevic will no longer be able to leave the country for fear of arrest - but then he does not travel abroad anyway, and despite appeals from The Hague for his extradition, the chances are nil.

It will have little practical effect on the way he lives and works, but the effects on peace negotiations are substantial.

For Slobodan Milosevic, political survival is at the top of his personal agenda and those here who want to see a negotiated conclusion to the war fear that he now has little incentive to agree a deal and that Nato will accept nothing less than complete capitulation.



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