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Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Serbia minister quits for failing to catch Ratko Mladic

Rasim Ljajic in Belgrade, Serbia, 29 December 2009
Rasim Ljajic had pledged to find Ratko Mladic by the end of 2009

A Serbian minister has resigned as head of the team responsible for tracking down suspects wanted by The Hague after failing to find Ratko Mladic.

The Bosnian Serb general is charged with genocide over the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995, as well as the siege of Sarajevo.

Labour Minister Rasim Ljajic had pledged to deliver him to the international court by the end of 2009.

His arrest is necessary for Serbia's progress towards membership of the EU.

"I am informing you that I am resigning the post for well-known reasons," said Mr Ljajic in a letter to Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic.

Even though the fugitive general remains at large, Mr Ljajic insisted he and his team had been doing a good job.

Ratko Mladic
Mladic's arrest would boost Serbia's progress towards EU membership

"The past year has been the most successful so far," he said. "We have never worked so hard... and I am certain that such an effort must have results."

Mr Mladic has been on the run since he was indicted in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Belgrade's European Union hopes have been frozen on the insistence of the Dutch government, which demanded that Serbia prove its commitment to catching remaining fugitives.

But the UN tribunal's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, this month praised Serbia's efforts to hunt down the fugitives in a report to the UN Security Council.



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