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ICTY chief prosecutor urges Serbia to arrest top war crimes fugitive

[JURIST] Carla Del Ponte [official profile], top prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] praised last week's arrest and extradition [JURIST reports] of war crimes suspect Zdravko Tolimir [ICTY case backgrounder, PDF] Wednesday, but reiterated that Serbia must arrest and extradite war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Five of the 161 suspects indicted by the ICTY remain fugitives, including Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [ICTY case backgrounder; BBC profile].

Serbia [JURIST news archive] has come under increased international pressure from the European Union (EU) [official website] and the United States to prosecute war criminals and arrest war crimes fugitives. Last Thursday, Serbian President Boris Tadic [official website] announced the creation of the National Security Council, a special body headed by the president that will coordinate police and military security resources to hunt for suspected war criminals. On May 15, the chief war crimes prosecutor of Serbia told reporters that the search [JURIST report] for Mladic "has not stopped for even a moment" and hinted at progress following statements by the EU that EU-Serbia pre-membership negotiations could resume depending on Serbia's commitment to bring war crimes suspects to justice. The negotiations were suspended in May 2005 due to the EU's perception that Serbia was failing to fully cooperate with the ICTY. Del Ponte, who is expected to issue a report detailing Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal in the next few weeks, has said in the past that Serbian nationalists were aiding Mladic's continued evasion of authorities. AP has more.

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