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Bosnian Serbs Prepare To Extradite War Crimes Suspects

Prague, March 21 (RFE/RL) -- A top Bosnian Serb leader said today that his republic -- which forms nearly half of Bosnia-Herzegovina -- is preparing to amend its constitution to permit the extradition of war crimes suspects wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Rajko Kasagic, self-styled prime minister of Republika Srpska -- as the Bosnian Serb entity is known -- made the comments in an interview with RFE/RL from his headquarters in Banja Luka.

He said the Bosnian Serb constitution as now written does n-o-t permit extradition of its citizens to other countries. But he said this will be changed.

He said Bosnian Serbs are suspicious of the tribunal because it has indicted their top political leader, Radovan Karadzic, and their top military commander, General Ratko Mladic. Kasagic said that Bosnian Serbs fear their whole nation would be put on trial if these two men are ever brought to trial.

But he did say that he had faith that the Hague tribunal will act professionally and be objective. Our correspondent says this is the first time any Bosnian Serb official has expressed even modest approval of the tribunal -- and that it may signal new cooperation with the UN body. The tribunal has indicted 53 war crimes suspects -- the vast majority of them Bosnian Serbs -- but only has two men in custody. Kasagic urged the Hague tribunal to investigate reports of atrocities agains Bosnian Serbs as well.