Yugoslav Officials Seek OK on Extradition

From Associated Press

The Justice Ministry asked a court Monday to allow the extradition of former President Slobodan Milosevic so that he may stand trial on war crimes charges for his alleged role in atrocities committed in Kosovo.

The state-run Tanjug news agency, citing a statement from the government of Serbia, the main Yugoslav republic, reported that Yugoslav Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac had presented Belgrade District Court with a demand from the U.N tribunal to surrender Milosevic.

After months of delays, the move was an apparent reflection that pro-democracy authorities who succeeded Milosevic Are now willing to have the former Yugoslav president answer to the international tribunal.

The development came just one day after a Yugoslav government decree permitting the extradition of citizens came into force and removed legal obstacles to Milosevic's extradition to The Hague.

Earlier in the day, lawyers for Milosevic asked the Constitutional Court to rule against the decree governing extraditions, saying it was illegal.

Milosevic, in a Belgrade prison since April 1 while authorities investigate charges of abuse of power and corruption, is sought by the U.N. tribunal for alleged involvement in atrocities committed in Kosovo during a crackdown on the province's majority ethnic Albanian population that ended two years ago.

The United States and its allies have praised the Yugoslav government's move to clear legal obstacles for the extradition of Milosevic and more than a dozen other Yugoslav war crimes suspects sought by the Hague court.

Still, an official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was seeking more information on the decree before deciding whether to participate in a conference Friday meant to produce pledges of financial aid to Yugoslavia.

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