Slobo goes shopping as US probes 'massacre'

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The Independent Online
AS SLOBODAN Milsoevic, the Serbian leader whose country is under a UN embargo, took a break from Bosnian peace talks to go shopping for American shoes, a senior US official set off to Bosnia to visit sites of the alleged massacres of thousands of Muslim men.

The trip by the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, John Shattuck, is seen mainly as a way to keep the question of war crimes in focus, but at the same time to allow the peace talks between Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian leaders in Dayton, Ohio, to continue with their principal task of negotiating the division of territory and institutions for the region.

But the presence of a high-level American investigator in Bosnian Serb territory will also provide a good test of President Milosevic's power over the Bosnian Serb authorities. If the Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, who stand accused of war crimes, do not stand in the way of the Americans when they visit Banja Luka, Srebrenica and Zepa, Mr Milosevic's authority at the peace talks will be enhanced. After the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, thousands of Muslim prisoners went missing and are thought to have been murdered.

The US team will also try to secure the release of a US journalist, David Rohde, correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, who is being held by the Bosnian Serbs. Rohde, who has written about atrocities against Muslims, was arrested on his way to Srebrenica. Meanwhile at Dayton, the three Balkan delegations this weekend were to study proposals on refugees, human rights and the police functions of the multi-ethnic Bosnia that is supposed to emerge from the negotiations. The Clinton administration, sole source of authorised information on the talks, say the delegations are "getting along so well" they will play soccer and go swimming together this weekend.

Mr Milosevic, accompanied by dozens of Secret Service agents, descended on the vast marble-floored shopping mall at Fairfield Commons in search of footwear. He bought two pairs of Timberland shoes, one for himself and one pair for his son. War crimes trials, page 13