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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 20:26 GMT
Serbia denies Mladic arrest claim
Gen Mladic
Gen Mladic is wanted for war crimes including genocide
The Serbian government has denied reports that top Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect General Ratko Mladic has been arrested.

Belgrade's Studio B TV said Gen Mladic, wanted by the international tribunal in The Hague for war crimes, had been located near Bosnia's Serbian border.

But a government spokesman rejected reports of his capture as "manipulation which damages the government".

Nonetheless, BBC correspondents say some form of talks may be under way.

Gen Mladic, who is 63, was Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's army chief throughout the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

The court has indicted him over the siege of Sarajevo, which claimed at least 10,000 lives, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were killed.

It was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Mounting demands

The reports come amid growing international pressure for his capture.

Video footage shows Srebrenica victim with hands tied behind his back
The Srebrenica massacre was Europe's worst atrocity since WWII

The European Union warned Belgrade last month that moves towards its eventual membership in the club would be halted if it failed to hand him over.

An EU report is due at the end of February on the extent of Serbia's co-operation with the UN tribunal, and Serbian leaders have acknowledged that failure to hand him over would hamper talks on the final status of the UN-administered province of Kosovo.

As he dismissed reports of Gen Mladic's arrest, government spokesman Srdjan Djuric said such speculation detracted from Belgrade's efforts "to fully complete its co-operation with The Hague".

The EU and the tribunal have also said they have no information about the reported arrest.

But tribunal spokeswoman Florence Hartmann repeated assertions made by Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte that Gen Mladic is in Serbia and "in the immediate reach of the authorities".

"We have said for the last 10 days that the arrest could take place very quickly," she said, quoted by the Associated Press.

Gen Mladic lived openly in Belgrade for some time after the war, but he disappeared from view when former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was arrested in 2001.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See archive footage of Gen Mladic during the Bosnian war




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