PANCEVO, Serbia-Montenegro, Aug 24 (AFP) -
The US senior envoy for war crimes Pierre-Richard Prosper warned here Wednesday that all war crimes suspects must answer charges before international or local justice.
"We believe that those who have committed those acts must be brought to (UN tribunal in) The Hague or be tried before local courts," Prosper said while visiting a refugee center in the Serbian town of Pancevo, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of the capital Belgrade.
Prosper, who is on a "regular" two-day visit to the country, according to the US embassy in Belgrade, also said he welcomed the "progress" Serbia has made in cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), charged with prosecuting war crimes during the Balkan conflicts over the past decade.
At the same time, Prosper said that "the work has not been finished yet," insisting that the two most-wanted suspects still at large, the Bosnian Serb war-time political and military leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, must be brought to trial.
The ICTY has indicted Mladic and Karadzic for war crimes and genocide related to atrocities against non-Serbs in Bosnia, notably the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.
The former Bosnian Serb general is believed to be hiding in Serbia, which Belgrade denies, insisting that it has no information on Mladic's whereabouts.
Talking with some 100 Serb refugees who have fled Bosnia, Croatia or Kosovo, finding shelter at Pancevo, Prosper said that the United States was aware that there were also Serb victims in the 1990s Balkan wars that tore apart the former Yugoslavia.
"We know that there were Serbs who were persecuted, murdered, raped, had their homes destroyed, property taken away, forced to relocate," Prosper said.
He added that some of those responsible for such crimes have been indicted by the ICTY, notably Croatian general Ante Gotovina, charged with the murders of at least 150 ethnic Serbs at the end of the 1991-95 Serbo-Croatian war.
Prosper was due to meet late Wednesday with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and other Serbian officials responsible for war crimes issues.
On Thursday, Prosper was scheduled to visit Serbia's special court for war crimes where he will meet judges and the country's special war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vuckovic.
The United States has been supporting countries of the former Yugoslav Federation in their bid to put on trial locally some of those suspected of war crimes during the Balkan conflicts.