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Serbian Minister Denies Fugitive Tipped Off

23 July 2004 -- Serbia's justice minister has denied that Serbian authorities helped a top war crimes suspect escape capture.

Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said on 22 July that war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic likely received a tip-off about a secret indictment against him. Del Ponte made the statement after the tribunal released surveillance photos showing Hadzic fleeing his home just hours after Serbian authorities learned of the indictment.

Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic said today that no one from the judiciary or police could have given Hadzic a signal to escape. He suggested that the UN undercover investigators who took the photos, but did not have authority to arrest Hadzic, may have tipped him off.

Hadzic is wanted for war crimes that the prosecutors charge he committed while serving as a leader in a breakaway Serb territory of Croatia during the country's 1991-95 war.