Serbia's prime minister says the republic will extradite suspects to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague within the next few days. Zoran Djindjic made the announcement a day after Secretary of State Colin Powell delayed a decision on whether to freeze U.S. aid.
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic told reporters that he expects the first extraditions of war crimes suspects within 48 hours.
He made the announcement as a Bosnian-Serb army officer arrested Monday was transferred from neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in the Netherlands.
Police sources said NATO-led peacekeepers arrested Momir Nikolic in Bratunac, in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is suspected of involvement in attacks on Srebrenica, where up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys are believed to have been killed by Serb forces in July 1995.
Several war crimes suspects are believed to be hiding in Yugoslavia, which is made up of Serbia and Montenegro.
Congress gave the Yugoslav Federation until March 31 to cooperate with the U.N. tribunal or lose millions of dollars in direct financial assistance. Analysts say an $800 million deal with the International Monetary Fund and other aid projects could also be affected.
Although that deadline passed without any extraditions, Serbian authorities have ordered the arrest of four former associates of ousted president Slobodan Milosevic, including current Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.
This apparently prompted Secretary of State Colin Powell to delay the decision Monday on whether Yugoslavia has worked sufficiently with the tribunal to avert the aid freeze.
Yugoslav federal officials came out in favor of the extraditions in a statement Monday.
Analysts say the Yugoslav government ministers appear to bypass Yugoslavia's President Vojislav Kostunica, who has been highly critical of the tribunal. They also say the developments underscore a power struggle between the pro-Western Djindjic and President Kostunica who is widely viewed as a moderate nationalist.