Mladic and Belgrade in the firing line

04 October 2004 by Arnoud Grellier

The sensitive issue of cooperation between Serbia and the ICTY is on the agenda in a meeting on 4 October between the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla del Ponte and Serbian president Boris Tadic, accompanied by his prime minister Vojislav Kostunika. Del Ponte's arrival in Belgrade on 1 October coincides with mounting pressure from the international community for Serbia to do more in its power to hand over war criminals, including the ICTY's most wanted fugitive, Ratko Mladic.

Indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the former Bosnian Serb general has been on the run from international justice for nine years. The prosecutor is convinced he is hiding in Serbia. In what may appear as a concession to Serb authorities who are extremely wary of the ICTY, Carla del Ponte immediately announced that she will be transferring the first ICTY case to local Serbian courts. The case was an "important" one but she declined to reveal the defendant's identity. However, the announcement was not expected to gloss over the fact that Belgrade is still very much in the international community's bad books. American war crimes ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper expressed his government's growing impatience on 23 September: "If Belgrade wants to resolve the problems of cooperation with The Hague once and for all, it is going to have to extradite Ratko Mladic" he told the news agency Beta. "Then we can hope to see trials held in Belgrade, including those of the four generals," he added, referring to the four officers from the Serbian police and armed forces who are wanted by the ICTY.

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