Friday, April 07, 2006

Report Mladic spoke to Del Ponte is "lunacy": aide


A report in a Bosnian weekly that top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic told U.N. chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte over the phone that he would surrender soon is "total lunacy," her spokesman said on Friday.

Slobodna Bosna quoted a source close to Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica as saying the premier called Mladic on March 29 when his guest Del Ponte asked how he could sure of delivering the former Bosnian Serb general to the Hague tribunal within weeks.

The report said Kostunica put Mladic on speakerphone so Del Ponte could hear him in person promising to surrender and asking for medical treatment. The five minute conversation also covered Mladic's preferences over arrangements of a surrender, it said.

"This is total lunacy. It is absolutely not true," said Del Ponte's spokesman Anton Nikiforov, adding that on legal grounds it was impossible for the prosecutor to discuss such matters with an accused.

Mladic is accused of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo which claimed over 10,000 civilian lives. His handover is key to Serbia's bid to eventually join the European Union.

Del Ponte says he is hiding in Serbia, protected by hardliners. Belgrade denies knowing his whereabouts or being in contact with him, but Kostunica pledged repeatedly in recent weeks he will soon meet EU demands for Mladic to be handed over.

After a positive report from Del Ponte, the EU decided last week to go ahead with talks on closer ties rather than suspend them. Nikiforov said on Thursday Kostunica had persuaded Del Ponte that Mladic would be handed over to The Hague this month.

The prospect of a new deadline has sparked a new round of speculation in the Serbian press, which is periodically full of reports quoting anonymous sources that Mladic is either considering surrender, or ready to die to avoid arrest.

Serbia's high-selling daily Blic on Friday quoted a source close to the Hague tribunal as saying that despite all attempts at negotiations, Mladic had not decided to hand himself in.

"Knowing his character, it was clear from the start that he would never agree to something like that," the source said.

But no matter whether there was a surrender or an arrest, the Serb government would be careful not to humiliate him by sending him to The Hague "secretly, at night, by helicopter, with a bag over his head," the source added.

Newspapers also gave extensive coverage to accusations by members of Mladic's family in Serbia, including his son and four male relatives, that they had been harassed by police.

The description of the events in different media ranged from "brutal beatings" to "overnight detention" and "friendly chat." Mladic's son Darko said that "regardless of what the police do, they will not get any results."

Serbia's Interior Ministry has refused to comment on the reports.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With the track record the U.N. has for making fair decisions i too think Mladic would be a fool to turn himself in and expect the U.N. to search for the "TRUTH".They never did find the the 300,ooo bodies that keep coming up with other muslim crap..