Serbian prime minister advises Mladic to surrender

Serbia 's prime minister said Wednesday that a crackdown on the support network of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic has left him "hiding all alone," and called on the former army general to surrender. In a statement made available to The Associated Press, Prime minister Vojislav Kostunica said his government has "done absolutely everything in its power" to capture Mladic and send him to the U.N. war crimes tribunal. "His entire network has been uncovered; Mladic is now hiding all alone," he said.

Mladic indicted by the U.N. court for genocide in the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, Europe's worst massacre since World War II was believed by U.N. war crimes prosecutors to be hiding in Serbia under the protection of hardliners in the army. In response to Serbia's failure to deliver Mladic to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, by an April 30 deadline, the European Union announced Wednesday it has suspend pre-membership talks with Serbia-Montenegro.

Kostunica said "the EU suspension inflicts enormous damage to the government and our country." "It would be best for everyone for Ratko Mladic to follow the example of other officers and go to The Hague ," Kostunica said referring to about a dozen other Serb army officers who had last year surrendered voluntarily to the tribunal.

"Never in our history has the entire state and nation been made to suffer because of one officer," Kostunica said. "By hiding, Ratko Mladic is inflicting enormous damage to our state and national interests." The statement was an apparent desperate move by Kostunica to persuade the fugitive Bosnian Serb general to surrender to The Hague as Serbian security services failed to do the job.

Cabinet minister Velimir Ilic was even more specific. "We arrested several of his aides and bodyguards and discovered several of his hiding places where he used to hide, but he wasn't there," Ilic said. "Certain (security) services shouldn't have allowed that to happen." Indicating that the hunt for Mladic will continue, Kostunica said it "is now a technical matter to discover the location where Mladic is hiding", reports the AP.


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