Getting them home
Negotiations with NATO for the release of six Serbs held by Albanian rebels in the south of the country began on Friday, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nebojša Čović. "We are going to discuss with KFOR (the NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force) the release of these six people," said Mr Čović. The deal on the captives is needed before there can be substantive talks on a long-term solution to the year-long conflict in south Serbia, he said.
The rebels of the Liberation Army of Preševo, Medveđe and Bujanovac (UÇPMB) have taken over a large part of the territory and say they want it to be joined to Kosovo.
The Albanians have their own men who they say must be part of the deal. On Thursday, the rebels called for the release of Kosovar Albanians still held in Serbian jails two years after the start of the Kosovo war. They offered to exchange two army officers, who were held after inadvertently driving into a rebel-held village on the edge of the buffer zone on Wednesday.
Čović said the talks on the fate of the Serb hostages would "determine" the character of negotiations between Belgrade and ethnic Albanians on a long-term peace plan for the region. Meanwhile, NATO has been gradually allowing a staged re-entry of Yugoslav troops into the buffer zone over the past two weeks, as part of its attempt to control armed rebels infiltrating Macedonia and Kosovo.
The net closing on Slobo
A Serbian court this week remanded the former secret police chief Rade Marković to a further two months in custody. Marković was responsible for the secret service under former president Slobodan Milošević.
Marković is suspected of ordering and organizing an assassination attempt on Vuk Drašković, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Party (SPO), while Milošević was Yugoslav president. Drašković survived but was injured in a crash with a truck. Four of his aides died. Drašković has always claimed the crash was no accident, but was deliberately arranged by the secret service. The court appears to agree that more investigation is needed.
Marković has denied any involvement.
The wrong passport
A Bosnian Serb wanted for alleged genocide was transferred to the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal on Friday. The UN welcomed the move and called it "groundbreaking."
Milomir Stakić is accused of helping to plan and set up some of the most notorious Bosnian detention camps in 1992 and 1993. He was named in a sealed indictment given to the Yugoslav government by the Chief Prosecutor of the tribunal, Carla del Ponte, when she visited Belgrade earlier this year. He was listed along with two other war crimes suspects who are now both dead, according to tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.
"He has been transferred by the authorities in Belgrade," said Landale. Stakić, who is charged on one count of genocide, arrived in the Hague late on Friday.
Serbian media said Stakić, 39, had been grabbed by plain clothes officers on Thursday. One report said the arrest had been made in Belgrade while Stakić was on his way to collect his child.
Yugoslavia has been under huge international pressure to cooperate with the tribunal by transferring war crimes suspects to The Hague for trial. Washington had threatened Belgrade with tough economic sanctions unless it started cooperating by March 31.
Carla del Ponte issued a statement saying this was the cooperation she had been crying out for. "This is the first concrete sign of cooperation. I am satisfied and hope that this will continue and that all indictees living on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will be handed over in the near future," she said.
Dan Damon, 24 March 2001
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