Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hartman (Hague) - Mladic in Serbia

Saturday – The Hague Tribunal has denied being involved in a search for former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic in an army compound in the plush Belgrade suburb of Topcider.

Belgrade has been awash with rumours this week that a mysterious shooting incident in the compound was linked to the fugitive, with daily Kurir claiming that it had been searched by military police and international investigators just days earlier.

Two young army sentries were shot dead in the so-far unexplained attack at the Topcider base, which includes private residences used by senior army officers.

The rumour mill went into overdrive, claiming that the two sentries shot this week had to die because they had seen an elusive war crimes suspect who is not supposed to be in the country.

Florence Hartmann, the press representative for Hague Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, was unequivocal today in her denial of any Hague involvement.

“I don’t know what your security forces are doing, you’ll have to ask them that, but Hague investigators have not been in that facility.  The Serbian authorities have told us that they are searching for General Ratko Mladic, but we have no information about whether on the day of the accident there was any kind of search operation going on for any fugitive,” Hartmann told Belgrade daily Blic.

Pressed on the issue of whether The Hague had been told that Mladic was hiding in an underground army facility in Topcider, Hartmann replied that the tribunal would not talk about addresses until after Mladic is arrested.

“At the moment I would not like to give you details.  But I’m not ruling out that Mladic may be hiding in exactly that part of Belgrade,” she added.

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