- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2002

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is accused of executing 9,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, lives in a heavily guarded villa in a wealthy suburb of Belgrade.
Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb political leader indicted in 1995 for genocide and crimes against humanity, is often seen crossing the border between Bosnia and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro.
The two men remain free despite a $5 million reward offered by the U.S. government and tens of millions of dollars more in U.S.-backed aid that remains frozen until Yugoslavia cooperates with the international court in The Hague that issued the warrants.
When a reporter for The Washington Times visited a house identified by two sources as belonging to Gen. Mladic, thick-set guards with walkie-talkies and body armor blocked the way to the front gate.
The reporter was forbidden to use his camera or approach the front gate.
A clear view of the double-story house was impossible from the street thanks to a strategically placed pile of firewood.
The security men said the house was "diplomatic property" and ordered the reporter to leave and never return.
The reporter did go back two weeks later, on foot, and was immediately chased away.
A woman in the neighborhood said she had recently walked past a park bench where the instantly recognizable Gen. Mladic sat with two men and a dog.
He was also spotted on New Year's Eve at a ski resort inside Serbia with another international fugitive.
The U.S. Congress had set a March 31 deadline for economically struggling Yugoslavia to cooperate with the tribunal or lose tens of millions of dollars in financial assistance and U.S. support for loans from international organizations.
A year ago, Yugoslavia satisfied U.S. conditions for receiving aid by sending former President Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague.
With this year's deadline having passed, no U.S. assistance checks can be written for Yugoslavia until Secretary of State Colin L. Powell certifies the country's compliance.
Yugoslav officials say they expect to send several top associates of Mr. Milosevic to The Hague by early next month, but no one has mentioned Gen. Mladic or Mr. Karadzic.
Living in Yugoslavia, Gen. Mladic lies beyond reach of the 18,000-strong NATO-dominated Stabilization Force under U.S. Gen. John Sylvester.
But the force, which has jurisdiction in Bosnia, has begun to zero in on Mr. Karadzic, in contrast to its apparent unwillingness to act earlier.
"The impression I had most of last year is that if they were told exactly at which cafe the fugitives would be drinking coffee, they would not just turn a blind eye, they would run a mile," said a Western diplomat in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.
The Americans in particular are keen to justify a rapid downsizing of the U.S. military presence in the region, the diplomats say.
Donald Hays, the senior American official in the foreign coalition that runs the Bosnian federal state, said his efforts to reconstruct and stabilize the war-torn country would be "severely hampered" if neither of the chief fugitives was arrested and deported to the tribunal at The Hague.
In contrast, the region's NATO commanders and Mr. Hays' predecessors believe that an operation to arrest the suspects could lead to NATO casualties because both men have a substantial team of bodyguards. A source close to the Stabilization Force leadership in Sarajevo said, "The view has been that these guys are not worth losing any lives for."
Men who supported and armed, advised and admired Gen. Mladic control the army leadership in Serbia. Until the Bosnian war erupted in 1992, he was one of their senior colleagues in charge of the Bosnian corps of the Yugoslav army.
The army's influence did not prevent the arrest and deportation of Mr. Milosevic, but since then Serbian reformist leader Zoran Djindjic has lost much of his clout, weighed down by failure of his reform program to improve living standards and dented by Mr. Milosevic's strong performance in The Hague.
Mr. Karadzic, 56, lives in territory controlled by Bosnian Serbs.
Though officially expelled from the Bosnian Serb Democratic party, the political party he founded, which still forms the largest part of the Bosnian Serb administration based in the northern city of Banja Luka, Mr. Karadzic remains a hero in the eyes of many citizens and party members.
The NATO force had until recently feared that arresting Mr. Karadzic could spark serious civil unrest.
Mr. Karadzic has been sighted not only on roads but also within Pale, the ski resort town close to Sarajevo, where he has met with his wife, son and daughter, and has extensive business connections.
The United States has gotten NATO soldiers to stick up posters in Bosnian Serb territory, offering as much as $5 million for information on Gen. Mladic and Mr. Karadzic, along with two photos and a color print of a 50-deutchse-mark note.
Within hours all such posters are regularly torn down. Of late, the notices have been dropped on potential sighting areas by helicopter, prompting mayors to complain that NATO forces are littering.
Bosnian Serb radio and television have not carried paid advertisements. A hot line has been set up, but the vast majority of calls have been abusive, according to the people who answer the phones.
Nevertheless, there is one major incentive for the Bosnian Serb leadership to help detain and deport Mr. Karadzic.
"We do not want Bosnia to be left behind as we seek to become candidates for entry into the European Union," said Bosnian Serb Vice President Dragan Cavic in the ornate presidential compound in Banja Luka.
"We realize that the pressure on us will mount and mount until we hand Mr. Karadzic over, and all our entry into Europe and its markets will be blocked," Mr. Cavic said.

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