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PM: Milosevic Indictment Coming

Serbia's new government is making progress gathering evidence for its own indictment of Slobodan Milosevic for alleged crimes during his 12 year rule, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said on a visit to the United States on Friday.

Djindjic said an indictment could be ready soon, but added Serbia faced a "huge task" gathering evidence. He did not say if Milosevic, also accused by reformers of corruption and vote-rigging, would be indicted for war crimes.

The former Yugoslav leader is already wanted for trial by an international tribunal in The Hague for alleged war crimes in Kosovo. The new Yugoslav government has come under increasing pressure to hand Milosevic over to the Hague tribunal, but so far has resisted the move, arguing that bringing Milosevic to justice is an internal Yugoslav matter.

Powell: U.S. Won't "Run" From Balkans
Despite warnings to the contrary during the presidential campaign, Secretary of State Colin Powell signaled Thursday that the new Bush Administration would not "cut and run" from the Balkans.

In a series of meetings with leaders from the region, Powell indicated the U.S. would not hastily pull out of the troubled region. "There will be no sudden leaving," deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said after the secretary of state met Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski. Powell had a separate session with Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana and is scheduled Friday to meet Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and Kosovo Albanians Ibrahim Rugova, Veton Serroi and Hasim Thaci.

The U.S. has some 10,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo and in Bosnia.
(Reuters, State Dept.)

But Djindjic Friday left open the possibility that Yugoslavia may still accede to international pressure, saying that Serbia wanted Milosevic to go through its legal system and then it would "connect" with The Hague legal system in a few months.

Djindjic told reporters after meeting Secretary of State Colin Powell that parliament would appoint an attorney general and courts in a few days.

"We will start immediately after that. In 10 days or two weeks we will have some results. We already have some proofs," Djindjic said. "We want to do this in a legal way."

There are other signs Milosevic's position is bcoming more precarious.

In Belgrade, Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic told the Associated Press that Milosevic will end up extradited to The Hague, though it's not clear he was speaking for the government as his comment was at odds with previous statements by leaders of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

"Milosevic will end up in The Hague," Batic said. "The question is whether that will be now or a bit later. He will go there either voluntarily or the authorities will hand him over."

At the end of a visit last week, chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte criticized Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for turning down her demand that Milosevic and others indicted by the tribunal be indicted.

On Monday, Kostunica promised "step by step" cooperation with the tribunal, but refused to say whether that would eventually include extraditing Milosevic. Kostunica has insisted Yugoslav law bans extradition of Yugoslav citizens and would have to be amended before the former leader could be handed over.

But Batic said the Yugoslav laws will be changed within the next three months.

"It would be better for Milosevic to follow the example of Biljana Plavsic," Batic said, referring to a Bosnian Serb leader who surrendered to The Hague earlier this month. "Or he will be sent to The Hague with an escort."

©MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Reuters Limited and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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