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Serbia: U.S. Pressures Belgrade To Hand Over War Crime Suspects


Belgrade, 22 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has threatened to cut off financial aid to Yugoslavia unless Serbian authorities hand over three key war crimes suspects: former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic (pictured) and two men wanted for the 1991 Serbian siege of the Croatian town of Vukovar. The message was delivered during a visit to Belgrade by Pierre-Richard Prosper, the U.S. envoy on war crimes issues. Prosper urged that Mladic, who is believed to have been living in Serbia, and the two other suspects be handed over by 31 March so that Yugoslavia can avoid having its U.S. aid cut. Prosper did not specify the amount of aid money at stake.

Prosper suggested that if the three suspects are handed over to The Hague tribunal, most other remaining Serbian war crimes cases could be tried in local courts.

The U.S. envoy is expected to visit Bosnia later this week to urge authorities there to arrest the former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic.

The U.S. envoy's visit to Belgrade came after former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic on 20 January handed himself over to The Hague to face war crimes charges for the Kosovo conflict.

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