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UN prosecutors say Serbia has handed them 18 wartime diaries written by Gen. Ratko Mladic

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Prosecutors at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Wednesday Serbia has sent them a bundle of diaries written by Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic and they are seeking to use them as evidence against his former political master, Radovan Karadzic.

Serb security forces seized the 18 notebooks containing about 3,500 handwritten pages in February from the Belgrade apartment of Mladic's wife Bosiljka.

Prosecution spokeswoman Olga Kavran said she could not yet reveal what is in them in. The diaries cover periods throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

"It's too early to say," she told reporters at the court. "The prosecution is still examining the material that has arrived."

Prosecutors will be hoping the diaries provide a smoking gun linking Karadzic and Mladic to atrocities such as the deadly shelling and sniping campaign targeting civilians in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men in the U.N.-protected Srebrenica enclave.

In a motion asking judges for permission to use the diaries, prosecutors wrote that among the entries is one dated July 15, 1995, during which Mladic discussed the treatment of Srebrenica's population with senior international peacekeepers. It gave no further details of the meeting close to Belgrade.

Prosecutors say that Gen. Manojlo Milovanovic, a former close Mladic aide, has examined the diaries and confirmed the handwriting is Mladic's.

The "prosecution believes that the notebooks are contemporaneous notes taken by Gen. Ratko Mladic," they wrote. They added that they have filed confident information amounting to "persuasive evidence of the notebooks' authenticity."

Karadzic's American legal adviser, Peter Robinson, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Electronically scanned copies of all the pages have already been sent to Karadzic, who is on trial for allegedly masterminding — along with Mladic — Bosnian Serb atrocities throughout the war. He faces life imprisonment if convicted of 11 charges including two genocide counts.

Mladic is one of only two suspects indicted by the tribunal still on the run from justice. It is not the first time some of his wartime diaries have surfaced.

Other diaries were sent to the tribunal after they were impounded in a December 2008 raid of Mladic's family house in Belgrade.

Copies of those diaries published by Belgrade daily Blic showed that Mladic often met Serbian officials, including late President Slobodan Milosevic, and that Mladic had arranged military shipments from the former Soviet Union via Serbia during his Bosnian military campaigns.

After long facing criticism for failing to arrest Mladic and other fugitives, Belgrade has stepped up cooperation with the tribunal in recent years in an effort to smooth the way to its membership of the European Union.

Milosevic, who died in 2006 during his war crimes trial in The Hague, had claimed that Serbia had nothing to do with the war in Bosnia.