The Government of Yugoslavia has given 23 indicted war crimes suspects, including two of the most wanted men, until April 19 to surrender. Yugoslav officials issued the ultimatum just days after the federal Parliament adopted a law that allows the extradition of suspects to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
With a new extradition law in place, Yugoslavia's Government made clear Wednesday that it does not want to delay the transfer of suspects to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
It published a list with 23 names, including former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his war time military chief, General Ratko Mladic. Both men have been accused of responsibility for what has been called Europe's worst massacre since World War II in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Yugoslav officials say suspects who do not surrender by Friday will be arrested.
Up to 8,000, mainly Muslim men and boys, are believed to have been killed by Serb forces who overran the town in 1995. On Thursday U.N. Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte was expected to discuss the transfer of the worlds most wanted men with the authorities in Belgrade. General Mladic is believed to be hiding in or near Belgrade under the protection of the army.
In addition, current Serbian President Milan Milutinovic has been indicted along with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and three other high ranking Serb and Yugoslav officials for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws of war in Kosovo. They are accused of orchestrating a Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo that killed hundreds and forced more than 800,000 to flee their homes.
However analysts do not expect that many, if any, suspects will surrender. Capturing them is expected to be difficult, as many suspects are believed to have weapons and well armed body guards. There is also concern about possible suicide attempts. Already former Serbian Minister and war crimes suspect Vlajko Stojiljkovic died Sunday after he shot himself in the head on the steps of the federal parliament building last Thursday.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, a moderate nationalist, has described the suicide as "a warning" to the international community not to pressure his country. He referred to millions of dollars in U.S. aid which was frozen because Yugoslavia refused to transfer suspects to The Hague.
The crisis has lead to tensions with the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia's main republic Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, who has warned that his country will face an economic catastrophe if it does not want to work with the international community.