SARAJEVO, Sep 18 (Reuters) A Bosnian daily said today Serbia and Bosnia's Serb Republic were preparing the handover of a Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive before a visit next week by United Nations chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte.
Dnevni Avaz quoted unnamed Bosnian Serb police sources as saying that ex-security chief Stojan Zupljanin would be arrested in the Serb Republic and handed over to Serbia, in an operation similar to that which delivered former General Zdravko Tolimir.
Tolimir was arrested in May in the Serb Republic near the Serbian border. He says he was living in Serbia, was kidnapped, then transferred to Bosnia.
His arrest coincided with a visit to Belgrade by del Ponte, who then praised Serbia's cooperation with the Hague tribunal and effectively gave the green light for Serbia to resume frozen talks on closer ties with the European Union.
Both Bosnia and Serbia must show they are fully cooperating with the Hague tribunal and trying to arrest war crimes fugitives in order to progress towards EU membership.
The Serb Republic, one of Bosnia's two autonomous parts, has long been criticised by the West for its nationalist sympathies and public support for fugitives such as former general Ratko Mladic and his political boss Radovan Karadzic.
Both men are indicted for genocide for their role in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.
Serb Republic Interior Minister, Stanislav Cadjo, said Zupljanin could be arrested soon but denied he was hiding in the region.
''None of the Hague fugitives is in the Serb Republic, otherwise the police would have arrested them,'' Cadjo told reporters in the regional capital Banja Luka yesterday.
Serb Republic police director Uros Pena also said police were working on Zupljanin's arrest along with their counterpart agencies in Serbia, but declined to provide detail.
REUTERS ARB HT1637