Searches made in hunt for Mladic

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The Independent Online

Serbian authorities conducted another unsuccessful hunt for Europe's most-wanted war crimes fugitive, pledging to meet a European Union demand to arrest Ratko Mladic.

Heavily-armed police sealed off a mountain tourism centre in central Serbia and searched a restaurant and an apartment in the capital, Belgrade.

Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said the action focused on finding clues that could lead to the arrest of the wartime Bosnian Serb army commander who has been evading justice since 1995, when a UN tribunal indicted him with genocide.

"The action was focused on the search for material evidence that could lead to his location and arrest," Mr Vekaric said, adding it was one in a series of such searches recently.

He said one person was detained during the searches.

The official Tanjug news agency said two restaurants that were searched - one in Belgrade and one on the mountain near the capital - belong to the same owner, who was detained for questioning.

Tanjug said that four police cars and one van with masked passengers left the health-food restaurant on the forested mountain some 30 miles south of Belgrade.

Serbia's anti-terrorist police wear black woollen masks during such actions to hide their identities.

The chief UN war-crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, Serge Brammertz, plans to visit in two weeks to evaluate if Serbia is doing its best to apprehend Mladic.

The EU said last month that Serbia must bring Mladic to justice if it wants to join the bloc. Mladic is believed to be hiding in Serbia under the protection of his hardline wartime comrades.

He is wanted for the massacre in 1995 of some 8,000 Muslims from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica - the worst carnage in Europe since the Second World War - and the three year shelling and sniping of Sarajevo by his troops during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.