Serbia asks Interpol for help in finding Ratko Mladic

Graffiti depicting Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, in Belgrade, Serbia, 26 October
Image caption Recent reports suggest Mladic may be living abroad

Serbia has asked Interpol to help find war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, according to Tanjug news agency.

The Serbian Interior Minister, Ivica Dacic, met Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble in France on Tuesday.

Interpol may be able to determine whether Mladic "is in Serbia or in some other countries, members of Interpol", Tanjug quoted the minister as saying.

Mladic has been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Among the crimes the fugitive is charged with is the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica.

Stepping up hunt

Mladic has been on the run since the end of Bosnia's civil war in 1995.

Interpol suggested the request concerned all war crimes suspects.

In a statement it quoted Mr Dacic as saying: "Serbia and Interpol have enjoyed great co-operation in locating fugitives wanted for ordinary crimes, so we are now asking Interpol's assistance in helping to locate fugitives wanted in connection with the very serious offence of war crimes."

Interpol also said the minister offered to provide the organisation with a share of criminal assets seized by Serbian police - to boost the organisation's global efforts.

Mr Dacic's meeting at Interpol's headquarters in Lyon came a day after a visit to Belgrade by Serge Brammertz, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia.

Mr Brammertz for the first time conceded that it was possible that the former Bosnian Serb military commander was hiding outside Serbia, although he said the clues to his whereabouts would still be found in the country.

He also warned that the Serbian authorities were still not co-operating fully with the tribunal in the hunt for Mladic.

Serbia's co-operation on the matter is a key condition for future EU membership.

Our correspondent in Belgrade, Mark Lowen, says Serbia is stepping up the hunt considerably in order to achieve EU candidate status - something that will be decided next year.

Belgrade has increased the reward for information leading to his capture to 10m euros (£8.7m, $13.8m).

And last week, police were reported to be searching two locations in Belgrade and a tourism centre in a village in central Serbia.

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