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Europe

Bosnian TV airs images of war crimes fugitive Mladic

Bosnian state television has broadcast several video clips it says show war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic living freely in Serbia despite genocide charges filed against him by the Hague-based UN tribunal.

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The airing on Sarajevo-based FTV television, and on the Internet video-sharing website YouTube, may have seriously jeopardized Serbia's chances of joining the European Union.

The airing on Bosnian television coincided with an official visit by Serbia's foreign and defense ministers on Thursday. On Monday, EU foreign ministers are due to discuss Belgrade's progress in cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal.

Serbia's minister in charge of cooperation with the tribunal, Rasim Ljajic, told journalists at a hastily-arranged news conference that the footage was old.

"This is not happening accidentally. I am afraid the footage was presented with the aim to prevent a positive stance from the Netherlands," Ljajic said.

The minister said he believed the videos had been released to increase the political pressure on Serbia days before EU foreign ministers are due to discuss its progress towards co-operating with the tribunal.

The previously unknown images show Bosnian-Serb General Ratko Mladic in various restaurants and apartments and at what appears to be a Serbian military barracks, almost always accompanied by his wife Bosa and son Darko.

In one sequence, Mladic is seen dancing at his son's wedding, and in two others holding what would appear to be two newborn babies whom he is addressing as his grandchildren.

Mladic has been a fugitive for the past 14 years. He is accused of being jointly responsible for the massacre of Bosnian Moslems during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, including the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnians at Srebrenica in 1995.

In The Hague, UN prosecutor Serge Brammertz's spokeswoman, Olga Kavran, told the AFP news agency the tribunal was "aware of this footage."

The Netherlands, whose government fell in 2002 over its troops' "impossible" mission to protect Srebrenica, has blocked the implementation of an EU trade and aid pact with Serbia because of its failure to find and arrest Mladic.

In Brussels, Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic also held talks with EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

"European Union membership is our strategic goal and we will continue with our efforts despite the difficulties we are facing," Jeremic said, referrring to the Mladic issue.

The trial of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, is expected to begin at International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague in 2012.

The prosecutor and president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have demanded the arrest of Mladic and another top suspect of war crimes, Goran Hadzic, both of whom are still at large.

"If these two men, Mladic and Hadzic, are not brought to justice, it will leave a stain on the Security Council's historic contribution to peace building in the former Yugoslavia," Robinson said.

nrt/dpa/REuters/AFP

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

DW.DE

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