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Serbia arrests 3 suspects accused of helping Mladic avoid capture

[JURIST] Serbian police on Thursday arrested three people suspected of helping war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic [ICTY case backgrounder; JURIST news archive] evade authorities seeking to arrest him and turn him over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] for trial. Mladic's fugitive status has been a sticking point in Serbia's discussions with the European Union on possible EU accession [EU backgrounder], and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn [official website] earlier this week called off membership talks [JURIST report] due to Serbia's failure to arrest Mladic. The Serbian government said Thursday that it would redouble its efforts [press release] to find Mladic, noting that "The government unanimously agreed that Ratko Mladic's hiding is unworthy of patriotic and officer's tradition and that it directly harms the existential interest of the people and the state."

Mladic has been indicted [text] by the ICTY on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes stemming from the execution of over 7,000 Muslim prisoners and the shelling and sniping of innocent civilians during the siege of Sarajevo. Serbian officials have been accused of protecting Mladic [JURIST report] and Serbia told the ICTY and EU that Mladic would be delivered to the ICTY by the end of April [JURIST report]. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said that he never set firm deadlines, only that he recognized that it would be best if Serbia fulfilled its obligations to the ICTY "yesterday." AP has more.

1:24 PM ET - Two additional arrests were made Friday of people suspected of aiding Mladic. Also Friday, Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic [official profile] said that he expected Mladic to be arrested within weeks. Reuters has more.

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