Reward for Mladic increased to €10m

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Serbia has offered a reward of €10m (£8.7m) for information leading to the arrest of the Balkans' most wanted war crimes suspect, Ratko Mladic, whose capture is a condition for the country's membership of the EU.

Earlier this week EU foreign ministers agreed to ask the European Commission to review Serbia's application, a procedural step in the long accession process and one which they had previously blocked.

For its membership to progress, the now pro-Western country still has to arrest Mladic, who was indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes court for his role in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica and the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo.

Serbia's Infrastructure Minister, Verica Kalanovic, said: "The government has money in the budget to cover the reward. There's always money for such allocations. Serbia is determined to get rid of that burden."

The government said it had raised its reward to €10m from €1m. It also said it was now offering €1m rather than €350,000 for information on another fugitive, Goran Hadzic, the Serbs' wartime leader in Croatia. The average wage in Serbia is about €300 a month and 20 per cent of workers are unemployed.

Mladic is still considered a hero by hardliners in Serbia and in Bosnia's Serb Republic region.