Karadzic ally hints at trial

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The Independent Online
Belgrade (AP) - One of Radovan Karadzic's closest allies yesterday suggested that the former Bosnian Serb leader wanted to negotiate over demands that he be tried on suspicion of war crimes. Momcilo Krajisnik made the offer in Pale, a Karadzic stronghold, at a meeting with the UN rights investigator Elisabeth Rehn.

He said he wanted her to meet Mr Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander, who has also been indicted by the UN war- crimes tribunal. "I suggested ... I would play a role ...to arrange a meeting of Mrs Rehn with Karadzic and Mladic." Mrs Rehn could mediate between the tribunal and Gen Mladic and Mr Karadzic.

Mr Krajisnik's comments indicated that the Bosnian Serbs' former leader and his associates were feeling pressure put on them by the international community, which has increasingly come down on the side of the current Bosnian Serb President, Biljana Plavsic, in her struggle against them.

Mr Krajisnik was a wartime associate of Mr Karadzic, and is believed to speak for Mr Karadzic, who is in hiding because of fears he could be snatched by Nato commandos and forced to stand trial.

Mrs Plavsic appeared to be gaining the upper hand in her struggle with Mr Karadzic yesterday after the top Bosnian Serb general, Pero Colic, the army chief of staff, called her "supreme commander" - acknowledging Mrs Plavsic as his superior. Gen Colic late last month put himself squarely in the Karadzic camp. His switch to her side would further weaken Karadzic loyalists and help Western powers in the struggle to isolate the former Bosnian Serb leader.