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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 00:28 GMT
Serbia minister rejects Hague bid
Ratko Mladic (pointing) during the civil war (1994)
Mladic (centre) and Karadzic top the Hague's list
The Serbian Justice Minister, Zoran Stojkovic, has ruled out arresting four Serbian generals wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

But he expressed hopes that the generals would surrender voluntarily.

He also criticised another minister for saying that Serbia's reluctance to arrest the men was ruining the nation's chances to join the European Union.

The generals, whose names have not been revealed, were indicted in connection with atrocities in Kosovo in 1998-99.

"The talks [for surrender] are underway... and I expect everything to end to the benefit of the state and the suspects," Mr Stojkovic told Serbia's Blic newspaper.

"There will be no arrests or forced extradition to The Hague," the minister added.

He also criticised Human Rights Minister Rasim Ljajic for saying that the country can forget about EU membership and talks on becoming partners with Nato if it did not extradite war crimes indictees to The Hague soon.

"This kind of attitude can only make the generals more frightened just at the moment when a consensus is being established that the state, after they surrender, will completely stand behind them and do everything possible for them to stand trial in this country," Mr Stojanovic was quoted as saying by Serbia's B92 radio station.

The Hague tribunal is demanding, in particular, the transfer of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic for crimes during the Bosnian war.

War crimes trial test for Serbs
09 Mar 04 |  Europe
At a glance: Hague tribunal
20 Feb 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
27 Mar 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: After Milosevic
24 Mar 04 |  Country profiles

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