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Bosnian Serb war criminal Mladic arrested: Report

The independent Serbian B92 radio quoted several unofficial sources as saying Mladic, who has been indicted for genocide, had been arrested in the Serbian capital.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 02:59 IST

Top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic appeared close to arrest on Tuesday, more than a decade after the Srebrenica massacre, but Belgrade and the UN court denied reports he had already been captured.

The independent Serbian B92 radio quoted several unofficial sources as saying Mladic, who has been indicted for genocide, had been arrested in the Serbian capital before being transferred to an air base at the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla.

"According to B92 sources the operation began this morning and finished during the afternoon in Belgrade," said the station, which has a reputation for reliability.

However the report was immediately contradicted by the Serbian government and police.

"This is manipulation that harms as well as hinders the Serbian government's efforts to bring the cooperation with the Hague (war crimes) tribunal to a close," a statement in English from Serbian government spokesman Srdjan Djuric said.

There were no activities regarding Mladic's arrest on Tuesday and spreading such disinformation caused severe damage to Serbia, he said.

The chief prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, also denied the reports, which her spokeswoman referred to as "media hype".

"We officially deny that Mladic has been arrested. To our knowledge there is not even an operation ongoing to find him," spokeswoman Florence Hartmann told AFP.

B92 stood by its report following all of the denials, while a former senior secret police official told AFP an operation to locate and catch Mladic was still underway, but "so far without any result."

Mladic, 62 according to local sources, was indicted in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia over crimes committed during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

The former Bosnian Serb general was accused of ordering the three-and-a-half year siege of Sarajevo and the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, considered the single worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

First Published: Feb 22, 2006 02:59 IST