Former Finance Minister arrested
Borislav Milačić, former Minister of Finance of Serbia was arrested under suspicion that he had taken part in illegal activities connected with importing television equipment for eight TV stations founded by the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), BETA news agency reported. The same charges were filed against Nikola Šainović, former vice-prime minister of Yugoslavia and former director of the Politika publishing house, Dragan Antić.
Šainović is also one of the main suspects on the wanted list of the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Antić, who has been involved in many cases of fraud and is suspected of participation in political murders, fled to Cuba after the revolution in October last year.
There have been only a few arrests in Yugoslavia during past seven months, including that of Slobodan Milošević, but they were all on minor charges. Therefore, it can be expected that many suspects could be arrested in next few weeks because of repeated demands of the US and other countries.
US demands real cooperation
"We expect much more from the Yugoslav Administration than just adoption of a law on cooperation with The Hague Tribunal. Even more we want the immediate extradition of Milošević and other indicted persons, currently living in Serbia, the forwarding of all documents, and archives and access to both witnesses and victims, which the prosecution might request," said Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, at a session of Senate hearing on aid to foreign countries last week.
Members of the Senate Committee asked Powell that US participation at the donors conference for Yugoslavia be stipulated by the extradition of Milošević and other individuals indicted for war crimes.
Colin Powell also said that he did not believe Yugoslav authorities would extradite Milošević to The Hague before the conference scheduled for 29 June. This was the second time that Powell increased the conditions for aid to Yugoslavia by demanding close cooperation of Yugoslav authorities with the Tribunal.
Grubač says extradition cannot be avoided
Momčilo Grubač, Yugoslav minister of justice, voiced his opinion that the Government of Yugoslavia would discuss the bill on cooperation with The Hague Tribunal on 24 May. He added that Yugoslavia could not avoid extradition of the indicted. "The bill on cooperation does not mention extradition explicitly, only voluntary surrender. We have an obligation to hand over the indicted at the request of the Tribunal. This obligation was determined by a resolution of UN Security Council and by the statute of the Tribunal, so that Yugoslavia cannot circumvent this obligation," Grubač told the daily Večernje novosti.
A few law experts in Yugoslavia criticized his statement, insisting that according to international law, no law on cooperation needs to be passed. Yugoslavia, as a member of the UN, must deliver all suspects. That cannot be seen as extradition to a foreign country since the UN Tribunal is regarded as a court of all member states. Grubač's statement that Yugoslavia "cannot circumvent this obligation" was also criticized because it might make the impression that Yugoslavia was trying to avoid it.
Vojislav Koštunica, the president of Yugoslavia, was already accused of committing "political suicide" by his statements that he would never allow Milošević to be delivered to the Tribunal. His opinion that Milošević would have a fair trial in Yugoslavia was denied by a recent survey.
In a survey by the Institute for Strategic Marketing in Belgrade on "Truth about Serbia," 77.8 percent (from 2000 asked) said that "Croatian nationalism" was the main reason for disintegration of former Yugoslavia. The next reason was "Interests of USA and the West." The "most responsible person" for the wars in Yugoslavia is: 1) Franjo Tuđman, the (late) former president of Croatia; 2) Slobodan Milošević; and 3) Alija Izetbegović, former president of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
However, Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić (both wanted by the War Crimes Tribunal), Željko Ražnatović "Arkan" (assassinated, but still wanted by the Tribunal) and Slobodan Milošević were rated by this survey as the "Greatest saviors of the Serbian people."
Hide and seek
According to information of The Hague Tribunal, 12 out of 26 indicted for war crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia are currently living in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić are hiding in the territory of Republika Srpska (the Serbian part of Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunal Carla del Ponte announced that the charges against Milošević concerning his responsibility for war in former Yugoslavia would be brought by October. In an interview with Newsweek she also said that the already fragile cooperation with Yugoslav authorities came to a halt by the end of March as soon as the US administration verified its aid to Yugoslavia.
The president of Republika Srpska, Mirko Šarović, stated in an interview for the Belgrade daily Blic that "according to reports of the Ministry of Interior no suspect for war crimes from the public list of the Tribunal" were on the territory of that Bosnian entity. He also stated that the cooperation with the Tribunal "presents a burden for Republika Srpska."
Ljubomir Pajić, 19 May 2001