For the past nine years, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic have been hiding in mountainous areas of Bosnia and Serbia to avoid deportation to the Hague on war crimes charges. Both men are accused of genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Now sources tell TIME that the Serbian government is secretly negotiating with Mladic, promising to fund his defense and provide financial aid to his family if he surrenders. "We are working very intensely on that and expect results in a couple of weeks," says a senior government official. The change appears to have been prompted by the U.S. and E.U.'s renewed pressure on Serbia to deliver Mladic or face economic sanctions.
"We definitely see some movement on this issue," a senior Western diplomat says. "There's room for optimism." Karadzic, meanwhile, is allegedly hiding in the southeastern part of Republika Srpska (RS), a Serb-controlled entity in Bosnia. RS President Dragan Cavic has a unique proposal. "If I was in Karadzic's shoes, I would opt for a drastic solution," Cavic told a local newspaper. "One such solution is suicide, and that is something I would choose to do." No one expects Karadzic to take his advice.