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Serbo Journal

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Carla del Ponte is getting old

THE HAGUE, April 26 (Reuters) - A deadline for Serbia to deliver former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic to The Hague by the end of April has not changed despite media reports of a later date, a spokesman for the chief U.N. prosecutor said. In early April, Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte said Serbia had promised her that Mladic would be delivered to the Hague tribunal before the end of April.

Some media reports have said Serbia may be given until early or mid-May to deliver Mladic, but Del Ponte's spokesman dismissed the reports. "I have read about other dates ... May 3 or May 11, but the promise was end of April," he told journalists on Wednesday. "We will publish an assessment after that, in the beginning of May." Mladic is indicted with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims -- the worst mass killing in Europe since the end of World War Two -- and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo in which more than 11,000 people died. His handover is crucial to Serbia's bid to join the European mainstream after the wars of the 1990s.

The European Union had threatened to call off the next round of talks on closer ties with Serbia if Del Ponte judged that Belgrade was dragging its feet over arresting Mladic. Del Ponte, however, convinced the EU to go ahead with talks on closer ties rather than suspend them, on the understanding he would be in the dock before the next round of talks in May. In Paris, Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said at a press lunch that he could not promise that Belgrade would meet the deadline but said it remained the government's goal. "I don't know if Mladic will be in The Hague by the end of the month," Draskovic told the French Diplomatic Press Association.

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