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Yugoslavia drops extradition law

The tribunal accuses Serb forces under Milosevic's command of mass expulsions and killings of Kosovo Albanians
The tribunal accuses Serb forces under Milosevic's command of mass expulsions and killings of Kosovo Albanians  


BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Yugoslavia has withdrawn a bill that would allow war crimes suspects like former president Slobodan Milosevic to be extradited to face a U.N. court.

Serbia's DOS reform party -- which ousted Milosevic from power last October -- said on Thursday it will abandon plans to bring the bill before the federal parliament after a key Yugoslav party refused to support the measure.

Yugoslavia's reformist Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic told Reuters the DOS would explore other ways to co-operate with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

"We wanted to have that law to regulate that area and create legal protection for those indicted. But we will co-operate with The Hague even without that law," he said.

The Yugoslav government voted in favour of the law last week but for it to become valid it has to be voted through by federal parliament -- originally scheduled to meet on Thursday.

The Montenegro's Socialist People's Party (SNP) -- the junior partner in the coalition government -- said on Tuesday all its deputies would vote against the bill in parliament. Parliament postponed discussions on the bill until Friday.

The DOS dominates the federal government but needs the support of the Montenegrin party to secure an absolute majority in parliament.

The announcement to withdraw the bill comes just after chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte repeated her call for Yugoslavia to hand Milosevic over to the U.N. war crimes tribunal, which indicted Milosevic of crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

"I am waiting for Milosevic's transfer," Carla Del Ponte told the Associated Press.

"The international community must help me in order for Milosevic to appear in The Hague. Of course I hope he will be brought there very quickly," she said.

Failure to reach a deal and co-operate with the tribunal raises questions over whether the country will be able to attract crucial foreign funds at an international donors' conference for Yugoslavia planned for next week.

The United States, in particular, has made clear it will only take part in the conference if it sees clear signs Belgrade is making progress in co-operating with the tribunal.

The SNP says the U.N. tribunal is biased and that no suspects should be transferred to it. The party previously shared power with Milosevic's Serbian Socialists.

Milosevic was arrested April 1 at his Belgrade villa. He is in Belgrade's Central Prison, pending a local investigation into allegations of corruption and abuse of power during his 13-year rule.





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