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UN Accuses Yugoslav Army of Protecting Indicted War Criminal - 2001-11-27

The Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor has accused the Yugoslav army of protecting indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

Appearing before the U.N. Security Council, Carla Del Ponte said that Mladic is under the official protection of the Yugoslav army and is being shielded from justice. Mladic, along with former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is also still not in custody, were indicted in connection with the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica in which as many as eight thousand people died.

Prosecutor Del Ponte told reporters that, without the cooperation of Yugoslavia, there is no way that Mladic can be brought to justice. "Mladic," she said, "is enjoying protection as a Yugoslav army officer in Belgrade, which means he is granted a safe haven by a member state of the United Nations, namely the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

The government of Yugoslavia says that, in order to cooperate fully with the war crimes tribunal, a domestic legal framework for cooperation must be enacted. But Ms. Del Ponte charged Yugoslavia has been slow to adopt such a legal structure.

In her statement to the Security Council, the U.N. prosecutor drew a distinction between the federal government of Yugoslavia and authorities in Serbia who she said have been generally cooperative with the war crimes tribunal. She especially praised the surrender of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as a "courageous step" by the Serbian government. Milosevic has been charged with various war crimes including genocide.