War crimes suspect Mladic found

War crimes fugitive General Ratko Mladic has been located and authorities are negotiating his surrender, a senior state security official told The Associated Press today.

Mladic was located but “he has yet not been arrested,” said the official, who is close to the operation to locate Mladic.

However, the government earlier denied initial reports of Mladic’s arrest by the state news agency Tanjug.

Tanjug, quoting Bosnian Serb BN television, said Mladic was “being transported” to the US-run air force base in Tuzla, eastern Bosnia. Mladic was to be flown to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, the report said.

But Srdjan Djuric, spokesman for Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, told The Associated Press in a statement that Mladic had not been arrested.

He called the report a “manipulation” to derail the government’s efforts to detain the wartime Bosnian Serb army commander.

Earlier today, senior Kostunica aide Vladeta Jankovic had predicted Mladic would be captured “soon.”

However, Jankovic said he had no information on whether Mladic’s hiding place had been located or whether the government was involved in any negotiations for his surrender.

The private Beta news agency also reported tat “an operation was in progress to locate” Mladic. The Belgrade-based agency did not name the source of its report.

There was no official confirmation of the alleged operation.

Serbia is under tremendous pressure from the European Union and the US to capture Mladic, charged by the war crimes tribunal of genocide for his troops’ massacre of 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica and for the 1992-95 siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

Serbia, seeking to establish closer ties with the EU and Nato, faces renewed international isolation if it fails to extradite Mladic to the UN tribunal in The Hague.

Officials at the EU and Nato said they had no information about Mladic’s reported arrest.

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