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Net tightens on Milosevic allies

Mladic was indicted in 1995 for genocide in Bosnia and in Srebrenica  

LONDON, England -- Slobodan Milosevic's appearance before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal has raised expectations that his former allies will join him in The Hague soon.

Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military commander Ratko Mladic -- now the tribunal's most wanted suspects -- have been evading justice since the end of the Bosnian war in 1995.

The fugitives are accused of genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica -- the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Karadzic is believed to be hiding in the mountains of eastern Bosnia. Those who said they had seen him told the Associated Press that he had changed his trademark bushy hairstyle to a shaven head and grown a large beard.

They said he dressed in black robes like a Serbian priest to evade NATO-led patrols who have orders to arrest him.

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In the past, Karadzic often changed his hide-outs -- including Serbian Orthodox monasteries and mountain caves -- and travelled in ambulances with flashing lights to speed through NATO checkpoints.

His associates told AP that Karadzic had often visited his wife, Ljiljana, daughter, Sonja, and son, Sasa, in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale, east of Sarajevo, under cover of darkness.

He is also reported to have visited his ailing mother in the mountains of neighbouring Montenegro, and last year went to Budva on the Yugoslav republic's Adriatic coast.

Those in his inner circle say Karadzic once sneaked into Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital which his own troops once shelled, and had coffee with his friends in a cafe. Locals failed to recognise him in disguise, they say.

But one of his associates, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that Karadzic realises he cannot stay on the run for ever, and is preparing to surrender to the tribunal in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Observers say Karadzic might be tempted to testify against Milosevic in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Ratko Mladic led the 1995 Serb onslaught against the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica.

Serb troops bombarded Srebrenica for five days and killed columns of refugees attempting to flee the town. At least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were reported dead or missing.

Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic has also been indicted for genocide  

Mladic lived freely in Belgrade until Milosevic was ousted from power last October. He had regularly attended football matches and had dined in restaurants.

In previous summers, he has been spotted sunning himself with other retired military men on the Montenegrin coast.

When Yugoslavia's new administration signalled that it might have to hand Mladic over to the tribunal, he was said to have left the Yugoslav capital for Bosnia.

Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian prime minister who was instrumental in Milosevic's extradition, has promised that all war crimes suspects living in Serbia will soon be handed over to The Hague.

NATO commanders insist they do not know where either General Mladic or Mr. Karadzic are.

But from the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, the chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has made clear she does not believe NATO.

"Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were first indicted about six years ago," she said. "The fact that they have not been arrested while we are preparing the trials of other members of the Bosnian-Serb leadership is scandalous."

Del Ponte recently said in an interview she believed that Mladic was living in Belgrade under army protection.


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