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FIFA's Ugly Underbelly; William and Catherine Abroad; More Cracks in Gadhafi Regime

Aired May 30, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET



SEPP BLATTER, PRESIDENT, FIFA: We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties.


ZAIN VERJEE, GUEST HOST: FIFA's president on the defensive during a combative press conference in Zurich.

Football's governing body is dogged by allegations of dirty dealings, but Sepp Blatter denies them.

Fighting extradition -- wanted war criminal Ratko Mladic will spend another night in Serbia.

When will he be sent to the Hague?

And making bricks to pay a debt -- we're going to show you some of the smallest victims of bonded labor as part of CNN Freedom Project.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

Claims, counter-claims, denials and defiance -- the beautiful game's, ugly underbelly is now showing through. It all centers on a power struggle for FIFA's leadership.

Here's where we stand right now.

FIFA chief, Sepp Blatter, faced the media today from Switzerland, a day after FIFA announced provincial suspen -- provisional suspensions against two executive committee members. One of them, Mohamed bin Hammam, is Blatter's rival for president. Now, he's appealing his suspension.

Blatter himself was cleared of corruption allegations. He will run unopposed on Wednesday for a fourth presidential term. The other suspended official, Jack Warner, leveled his own accusations. He claims Blatter gave an unauthorized $1 million gift to the CONCACAF football federation.

Blatter asked the media for respect when he got to the podium in Zurich.

Was it a fair request and did he get any respect?

Watch some of these highlights. You decide.


IVAN WYATT, REUTERS: Good afternoon, Mr. Blatter.

Ivan Wyatt (ph) from Reuters.

Last night, your long-term ally, Mr. Jack Warner, told me that you should be stopped.

Can you give us some reaction to that statement?


Stopped in what?

No, no reaction.

The media today named the -- what happened in the FIFA is a crisis.

Is it a crisis?

Crisis -- what is a crisis?

If somebody of you would describe to me what there is a crisis then I would answer. Football is not in a crisis. When you have seen the match - - the final match of the Champions League, then you may supplode (ph) and you see what the game is, what is fair play on the game, what is good control of the game.

We are not in a crisis. We are only in some difficulties. And these difficulties will be solved. They will be solved inside our family.

Ladies and gentlemen, I accepted to have a press conference with you alone here. I am -- I respect you. Please respect me. And please respect the procedure of the press conference. And if you ask for a question, then ask for the mike. And don't intervene. We are not in a bazaar here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a press conference and I thought it's for asking questions. And there is many more people here which want to ask questions. And it's not about respect, because this is respected.

BLATTER: Yes, but I have said...


BLATTER: -- that I have a time at your disposal. I have answered the questions and now I thank you for your attendance. I thank you for your interest. And we all look forward to tomorrow...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The -- you have...

BLATTER: -- or the day after.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have said that this is about the ethics committee...

BLATTER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and that it's about ethics in FIFA...

BLATTER: Thank you.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. The questions have not...

BLATTER: No, later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The questions have been answered.

BLATTER: Listen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for...

BLATTER: -- I will not go...


BLATTER: -- into discussions individually with people that like to create problems. I just want to tell you one thing. You know, you can laugh. That's -- that's also an attitude. Elegance is also an attitude and respect is also an attitude.


BLATTER: Yes, sure. I think something. I have learned this in my life, also a life as a journalist. I'm still a member of the IPS. And when I was in a press conference and it was said now it is finished and I said, thank you.


VERJEE: There was a lot that Seth Blatter would not answer in that press conference.

I just want to bring in CNN's Patrick Snell.

He watched all of this go down from CNN Center in Atlanta -- Patrick, that whole press conference felt like a little bit of a farce, didn't it?

I mean what are we supposed make of Seth Blatter today?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Zain, we saw a FIFA president there, I think, feeling the strain, at times, throughout that. I'm watching it with CNN's Michael Holmes as it unfolded. And for me, he never really got to the -- the nitty-gritty of it all. And perhaps that was a little bit part of his downfall, really. I think if he'd gone straight for the meat of the -- of the topic, what he knew that the world's media had gathered there for, then I think that might have worked a little bit in his favor.

Instead, we got lots of toings and froings. We got a lot of issues over the microphone. And we heard, on more than one occasion, you know, you can't ask a question without a microphone. There were two or three occasions when journalists were asking multiple questions, if you like. And that's always a -- a little bit of a mistake. It's best to get your questions in straightaway. Just keep it to one and, therefore, you don't run the risk of whoever, in this case, President Blatt saying how many questions are you asking me here, one, two or three?

So I think, you know, he was feeling the strain. I could see it a little bit on his face, I think, Zain. This is normally a man, a superb politician, if you like, a master orator. And he was feeling the strain, no doubt about it. He normally is extremely charming. You normally get a lot of smiley -- smiles throughout, as well. And that certainly wasn't evident throughout. He was feeling the pressure, no doubt.

But I'm still surprised that, as I say, he didn't get to the nitty- gritty. There were many questions...

VERJEE: Right.

SNELL: -- that weren't asked, I think through time constraints, obviously, as well. And there's still many, many answers that we're seeking here -- Zain.

VERJEE: Patrick, do you think that at this stage, no matter how smooth talking and smiley a politician and effective that he has been in the past, do you think that we should have confidence in him now or is he part of the problem?

SNELL: I think the FIFA president is -- is here to -- to stay. I don't think there's any doubt that we're going to get this election. It's a one candidate standalone candidate going into Wednesday's elections for the FIFA presidential contest after Mohamed bin Hammam pulled out, withdrew his candidacy.

So, yes, I mean he has promised that FIFA does need to look at the issue, does need to address the situation, which, in his own words, he's admitting that the game is tarnished, the reputation to the game, the beautiful game, that FIFA family often referred to, as well.

And also, President Blatt referring to that wonderful European Cup final over the weekend, where Barcelona played some magnificent football to beat Manchester United. That was a welcome distraction, in my book, anyway, from what we have been seeing in the last few days centering around these allegations at FIFA house.

So Wednesday, just to recap, Zain, the FIFA presidential elections will go ahead as planned with just one candidate, that is the current president, Seth Blatter himself.

VERJEE: Patrick Snell in Atlanta.

Pedro Pinto joins me now from Zurich -- Pedro, you were watching this.

What was your reaction?

I mean it was extraordinary for all of us to watch.

PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, I have to be honest, I don't agree with Patrick at all. I don't think Seth Blatter was feeling much of the strain here. And his overall demeanor wasn't appreciated by the journalists, because he came in smiling. He started saying, oh, great to see you all. When someone asked how did he feel about all of this corruption allegations happening under his watch, he kind of jokingly looked at his watch to play on that word. '

So I don't know how seriously he is taking this, I'll be absolutely honest with you. There's -- there's no doubt that he regrets everything that's happening and he's said as much. There's no doubt that he wants to do something about it, as everyone wants to see a solution to this problem. But he didn't really offer any solutions and he left most of the questions unanswered by the journalists.

And most of them were irate when the press conference ended, because they got the feeling that it was Seth Blatter's house, so he's playing on his rules and he really didn't give the journalists as to ask everything they wanted to ask -- Zain.

VERJEE: Pedro, let's also take a look for a moment at Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup, because that's swirling in controversy, as well. Suspended FIFA vice president, Jack Warner, claims FIFA's general secretary said Qatar, quote, "bought the tournament." Jerome Valcke denies that, insisting that his e-mails focused on how Qatar used its financial wealth to get support.

Qatar says that it won the bid fair and square. It happened last December on the same day Russia was awarded the 2018 tournament. Those secret ballots were clouded by the suspensions of two FIFA executive committee members before the voting.

Allegations of collusion were never proved. Critics also questioned Qatar's ambitious plans to build stadiums with outdoor air conditioning, just to beat back the searing summer heat.

Qatar won the tournament on the fourth ballot, beating the US. Blatter insists that it was all on the up and up.


BLATTER: I believe that the decision which we took for the World Cup

2022 was done exactly in the same pattern and in the same environment we have made the decision on the 2018. And there was no problem for FIFA. FIFA's executive committee, to act in this direction.

And, again, I say it, what I have said at the beginning of this press conference. There is no issue for the World Cup two twenty -- 22.


VERJEE: Those comments defending Qatar's bid was one of the few times Blatter actually directly answered a question.

Pedro Pinto joins us again with a lot more analysis -- Pedro, there may be more damaging e-mails and revelations to come still, right?

PINTO: Well, the issue with the e-mails really surprised a lot of people. And that was supposed to be a personal e-mail from Jerome Valcke - - he's the general secretary -- to Jack Warner regarding the whole process of the presidential candidacy of Mohamed bin Hammam.

But definitely, that took a lot of people by surprise, and especially when the secretary general admitted that e-mail did, in fact, exist, that also surprised a lot of people.

What he did do, of course, is release a statement denying that he meant to say that the -- Qatar had bought any votes for 2022. He just said they had a lot of financial clout and have the possibility to promote it in the best possible way.

To get a little bit more perspective, let me bring in Keir Radnedge, who joins us here.

He's followed FIFA for many a year, also writes about FIFA for "World Soccer" for -- for a long time.

Keir, what were the impressions that you got about the answers Seth Blatter gave and the questions he left unanswered regarding all topics?

KEIR RADNEDGE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "WORLD SOCCER MAGAZINE": Well, it was almost, in one way, as if Blatter was trying to sort of retain and show that he retained his hold on everything, that this was still, you know, FIFA was still its own private club within its own walls, responsible only to itself and, really, if you like, trying to sort of shut out any noise or criticism from outside. It's just sort of a defense mechanism, if you like.

Also, you might think almost not trying to give too much away ahead of congress and trying really to keep the lid on everything until the business of congress is done and that's it.

PINTO: Reguard -- regarding Qatar 2022 and the allegations that are cicula -- circling that particular process.

What can you tell us about some of the other topics that have been discussed recently regarding alleged payments made to members of FIFA?

RADNEDGE: Well, the -- the most recent one was the allegations in the "Sunday Times" newspaper that payments of around $1 million or whatever had been made to two of the African members of the executive committee, Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma. Obviously, these are allegations, which they've denied. You know, but we have to say, this kept the concern rolling. And, you know, it had been hoped that "The Sunday Times" could bring their whistleblower to -- to FIFA to actually talk face-to-face with FIFA officials. But apparently, you know, the conditions they couldn't agree on.

PINTO: Finally, Keir, does it make sense to hold elections in two days with all the drama that keeps ensuing?

And answer that question from a fan point of view and them from the FIFA point of view.

RADNEDGE: Well, I would think fans would wonder how on earth FIFA can go on with its daily business while all this is going on.

From a FIFA point of view and from, you know, a trying to get anything done point of view, it actually makes sense to go ahead with the elections, because otherwise, if you don't have anything or anybody at all at the top, then the whole organization will just be left to flounder. And, frankly, that is an even worse possible answer.

PINTO: Keir Radnedge, thank you so much for joining us on CNN.

RADNEDGE: Thank you.

PINTO: Zain, it's been a surreal day here at FIFA House. We arrived here in Zurich earlier today with so many questions to -- to see answered. We leave with not many of them clarified at all by the FIFA president, Seth Blatter.

VERJEE: Pedro Pinto in Zurich.

Football fans, the most important group of people here, are reacting now to yet another FIFA scandal.

Our digital sport producer, Ben Wyatt, has got some comments from around the world.

He joins me now from our London newsroom -- Ben, what are people saying about this?


Yes, we put up the blog a couple of hours ago and we've had comments coming in. And the overriding feeling is pretty much the same. We've had a -- a couple of comments here. This is from James Mansfield. He wrote in to say: "The -- the guy," which is Seth Blatter, "has ruined the beautiful game. Get rid of him now."

Hank Lion wrote in to say: ," what exactly are you and the other journalists going to do about this nonsense? Or are we going to have the same story in 2015 and 2019 when Blatter gets elected for the umpteenth time."

I'm not quite sure we're willing to do that about that, Zain.

But -- and, finally, Vic Jolson wrote in, saying: "Mr. Blatter obviously doesn't read papers or watch CNN and is consequently oblivious to the fact that FIFA is now the laughingstock of the world."

Interesting, too, that this feeling seems to be reflected on Twitter, also. Just after the press conference, there was a hot topic that was trending of Blatter out. And as you can see, this has been trending across the world.

So a sense then, really, something to be of one voice. We haven't had any comments on the blog yet that were in favor of the way that Blatter put that press conference across.

VERJEE: , thank you so much.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

When we come back, after years on the run as one of Europe's most wanted men, will his alleged ill health keep Ratko Mladic from facing genetic charges?

And repaying a debt for generations to come -- CNN Freedom Project looks at bonded labor in Afghanistan.

And after the royal wedding comes the royal tour -- we're going to give you the rundown on that Canadian and U.S. visit. That's just in a moment.


VERJEE: A Serbian court has ordered him sent to the Hague, but the family of Ratko Mladic says that he's too sick to face charged of genocide. Coming up, we're going to take a look at the legal tug of war over a former Bosnian Serb general arrested nearly after 16 years in hiding. Mladic is accused of orchestrating the worst atrocities in Europe since the Second World War.

I'm Zain Verjee in London.

And you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Let's take a look at our top stories.

Witnesses in Yemen say security forces are dismantling demonstrators' camps in the city of Taiz. Now this comes a day after government troops opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators there. According to medical officials, at least 20 people were killed and 200 wounded. The reports came as President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has repeatedly resisted calls for his resignation, met with top military officials to discuss hostilities and crimes in the country.

Libya is rolling out the red carpet for South African President Jacob Zuma. Libyan state TV has just aired these pictures of Mr. Zuma meeting with Moammar Gadhafi. Now, it's the first time the Libyan leader has been seen in public in weeks. Mr. Zuma is trying to mediate a cease-fire between the government and Libyan rebels. Unlike many world leaders, though, he has not called on Gadhafi to resign.

It's a pretty scary scene in a place that you would not expect -- a kindergarten classroom in Monterrey, Mexico. Just look at this amazing video. The kids' teacher here distracts them while gunshots ring out outside the school.




VERJEE: That teacher tells the children to lie down, as you can make out there. And then they sing a song with her. The kids cooperated with that in spite of what was happening. The drug-related gunfight outside this kindergarten school left five people dead.

Germany's ruling coalition has announced that all of the nation's nuclear power plants will be shut down by 2022. Now, the government said that it plans to switch to renewable energy and increase investments in energy research.

Conventional power plants fueled by natural gas will continue to be used in the country. The decision was made after the damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

More details have now been released on where Prince William and his wife will take their first official trip overseas as a married couple.

Can you guess?

CNN's Max Foster tells us.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Prince William has been to Canada before and he was a huge hit. But the duchess hasn't been to Canada nor the United States.

At the end of June, they'll be picked up in the U.K. by the Canadian Air Force and flown to Ottawa. From there, they'll travel through Quebec, Prince Edward Isle, the Northwest Territories and on to Calgary, where the duchess' grandfather trained bomber pilots during the Second World War.

A series of engagements has been arranged, which allows them to reflect on Canada's history, but also to look to the future as the next generation of royals. So expect to see them meeting lots of young people.

The final leg of the journey has been organized by the British government and takes them to Los Angeles, where they'll be promoting British interests to the United States. A source here at St. James's Palace has told me it seems a working visit, not an opportunity to meet celebrities, although I'm not quite sure how they're going to avoid them.

More details will be released in June.

Max Foster, CNN, St. James's Palace, London.


VERJEE: It's Memorial Day in the United States and Americans are remembering their war dead.


VERJEE: U.S. President Barack Obama laid a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. That's just outside of Washington. More than 300,000 people, mostly veterans, are buried at that cemetery.

Serbia delivered and the European Union is pleased. But the detention of war crimes suspect, Ratko Mladic, does not guarantee that the EU will now welcome Serbia with open arms.

Also, eight generals defect from Moammar Gadhafi's regime, as NATO says the Libyan leader's reign of terror is nearing an end.


VERJEE: More and more cracks are appearing in the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. Eight Libyan generals defected today, telling the world that Gadhafi's army is now operating at only 20 percent capacity. The news comes as South Africa's president arrived in Tripoli for crisis talks.

Our Nima Elbagir is there and she joins us now with an update -- Nima, how badly do these defections hurt Gadhafi?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not just the defections, Zain. It's also the fact that they're saying that there are only 10 generals left who are still loyal to Gadhafi. And all of this comes in the week when the U.K. and France are expected to deploy attack helicopters.

Now, the thing with the attack helicopters is that they have a much greater degree of precision and are able -- and according to military sources -- to really limit the amount of collateral damage. And so NATO would be more comfortable using them to a much higher degree of aerial bombardment and so, theoretically, could clear the way for a very rapid opposition advance into Tripoli.

And all this comes as Jacob Zuma leaves Tripoli without anything beyond the African Union road map, which would allow political reforms and political dialogue, but still under the aegis of Colonel Gadhafi, which he had already agreed to on the 10th of April.

So we don't really feel that sense of urgency here in Tripoli, while the rest of the world seems to really be trying to hammer home and really bring that end game -- Zain.

VERJEE: Right, exactly, because NATO said today that the reign of terror is almost over there.

From what you're seeing on the ground, is it?

ELBAGIR: We don't really get the sense that the Libyan administration understands that. You know, they are -- you know, there was a lot of -- we -- we haven't heard, I should say, we have not yet heard from President Zuma what his position on all this is.

But the statement that was released by the Libyans was that, you know, we're very happy that President Zuma came and that Colonel Gadhafi has agreed to the A.U. road map, a road map that he'd agreed to over a moment ago.

There isn't really this sense that NATO is bringing about that end game, as NATO is saying. And President Zuma himself released some statements we're hearing from Cape Town, saying that this is hitting the integrity of Africa. Besides not really acting in the way that, you know, you would think they would be, given the intensification of the bombardment on Tripoli here.

And those who are close to the inner circle are telling us that whatever happens, this is a decision that has to come from the colonel and the colonel isn't speaking.

VERJEE: Nima Elbagir is telling us the situation there on the ground. And a little bit of a reality check for us there, as well.

Thank you Nima.

His lawyers are trying to block it, but Ratko Mladic could very soon find himself being extradited to the Hague. We're going to take a look at the process and ask whether his arrest may finally bring Serbia and the European Union together.


VERJEE: Hi, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Zain Verjee in London.

Coming up, his doctors say accused Bosnian-Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic is too sick to face trial. We're going to tell you about their appeal and some of the possible effects to his arrest.

CNN's Freedom Project heads to Afghanistan, where families find themselves in an impossible financial dilemma and the children pay the horrible price.

And we'll speak to an accidental humanitarian. How the trip of a lifetime turned into a mission rescuing children thought lost. Conor Grennan is your Connector of the Day.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, let's get a check of the headlines.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter's defended himself and his organization from allegations of corruption during a news conference in Zurich. Blatter was cleared of wrongdoing, but two other top FIFA officials were suspended. Blatter stands to run unopposed for a fourth term on Wednesday.

Video posted on YouTube apparently shows fires burning in Freedom Square. This is in Taiz in Yemen. Eyewitnesses say security forces used bulldozers and fires to clear demonstrators' camps from Freedom Square. They say at least 20 people were killed and 200 wounded Sunday when troops opened fire on demonstrators.

Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has met with South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma. The South African leaders was expected to push for a cease-fire between Gadhafi loyalists and rebel fighters.

An E. coli outbreak linked to raw vegetables has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Germany. Spanish officials say two companies producing cucumbers may be involved in the outbreak. Russia is suspending all imports of vegetables from Germany and Spain.

It's Memorial Day in the US, and Americans are stopping to remember troops who lost their lives during war. There, you see President Barack Obama laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, that's in Arlington Cemetery.

Those are the headlines this hour.

Critics call it a delaying tactic, but defense attorneys for Ratko Mladic insist that he is just too ill to face war crimes charges at the Hague, saying that he may die before any trial can even begin.

They're trying to stop a Belgrade court from transferring him to the Hague, but as Nic Robertson reports, it seems more a question of when and not if.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ratko Mladic's family, visiting him for possibly the last time in Serbia. Two hours later, his son, Darko, emerging first, with his own daughter.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Mr. Mladic, this may be the last time that you see your father on Serbian soil. How do you feel about that, sir?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He shrugs off questions as he does his father's responsibility for war crimes.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Mr. Mladic, this may be the --

DARKO MLADIC, SON OF ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL RATKO MLADIC: No comment, please. Children are here, please.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At an ultra-nationalist rally the night before, we wept openly during an emotional appeal to keep his father in Serbia. Crowds fired up on alcohol and Serbian nationalism briefly fought with police, but Mladic himself seems resigned to extradition to face charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.

ROBERTSON (on camera): According to local media reports, Mladic has one request of the judges here, that before he's extradited, he be allowed to visit the grave of his daughter. She died in 1994 and, according to the media reports, because she committed suicide using one of his handguns when, allegedly, she heard that he might be prosecuted for war crimes.

This, according to media reports, is one of the places he used to come and visit. Then, all those years, he was on the run.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In the last few hours, as the deadline ticked down on his appeal, Mladic's defense lawyer shuttled in and out of the special court, demanding more medical tests.

MILOS SALJIC, DEFENSE LAWYER (through translator): His medical condition is alarming, and it is necessary that he is examined, not by the prison medical time, but by a cardiologist, a neuro-psychiatrist, neurologist, gastroenterologist, and orthopedist.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Not so, the chief prosecutor tells me. He is confident Mladic will soon be in the Hague. Court-appointed doctors say he is fit for extradition.

VLADIMIR VUKCEVIC, CHIEF PROESECUTOR (through translator): He is absolutely capable of following the procedure. That can be observed from our communication with him, which is very lively. He even makes jokes.

ROBERTSON (on camera): A local journalist, Katarina Subasic of Agence France-Presse, who's covered Mladic for years, tells me she's seen him inside the court, here. She says he was walking down the corridor like an old man, shuffling along. Not the imposing figure she remembers.

But she says when he went into the courtroom, he called out, "Is the judge there?" His voice, she says, as imposing as it ever was. Nic Robertson, CNN, Belgrade, Serbia.


VERJEE: Now that Mladic is behind bars, Serbia is one step closer to joining the European Union, but it still has a long way to go.

In the fall, the European Commission's going to be deciding whether or not to open formal EU membership talks with Serbia. Arrest Ratko Mladic was seen as a top condition for Serbia to advance, but another war crimes suspect, Goran Hadzic, a former Serb leader in Croatia, is still at large.

If that hurdle is overcome, Serbia will then have to negotiate 35 chapters, separate ones, of legislation covering everything from taxes to intellectual property rights to environmental standards, and that could take several years.

And one other possible hurdle is Kosovo. Many EU nations recognize its independence, but Serbia does not, and that could cause any one of the 27 EU members to just reject Serbia's bid.

Let's get more, now, on Serbia's chances of entering the EU. Let's speak to Richard Whitman, he's an associate fellow and EU expert at Chatham House. He's also a professor of politics at the University of Bath.

Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate that. Tell us, first of all, this isn't going to be a slam dunk, now, is it?

RICHARD WHITMAN, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE, CHATHAM HOUSE: Absolutely not. I mean, Serbia really, about ten years down the line, I think, in terms of possible acceptance. And it's actually probably lost a decade in terms of its preparation to be a member if you compare with Croatia, which is the best comparator it's made, and which is really just on the edge, now, of joining the EU.

VERJEE: Do you think it deserves entry?

WHITMAN: I think as a state, it really has a significant reform process, due to votes for it. I mean, the monitoring that's already been done on Serbia suggests the public administration, judiciary, organized crime and so on, are all formidable problems --


WHITMAN: But I think Serbia, even without the Kosovo issue, even without the war crimes tribunal issue, would have been a difficult case, and is a difficult case, for EU admission.

VERJEE: What do you think the biggest obstacle would be right now even after the arrest of Ratko Mladic?

WHITMAN: I think probably the biggest problem it's facing is to really follow up on what --


WHITMAN: The issue -- there needs to address, which are fairly, as you said in the introduction, mundane issues in terms of country's economy, its public administration. Get ready for these negotiating chapters it's going to have to go through.

VERJEE: The president, Boris Tadic said today that Serbia's held up its end of the bargain and the discussions that -- what it was supposed to fulfill, and now its the EU's turn, and they better hold up their end of the day.

WHITMAN: Well, I certainly think as far as the EU is concerned, they have an interest in moving Serbia along in the negotiating process, not least because they're very interested to see the Balkans as a package, stabilized, and Serbia as a key player within the Balkans.

VERJEE: Do you think there could be a backlash inside Serbia and Boris Tadic could have a problem on his hands because, if he's arrested Ratko Mladic and done what he was asked, even amid so much pressure, and Serbia is not given entry or formal negotiations aren't started, could there be a backlash?

WHITMAN: I think that's absolutely certain. And again, to look at the neighbor Croatia, where you just had the conviction in the international tribunal of General Gotovina. That has caused a significant backlash in Croatia, with both public demonstrations, but also crucially, a real turn against the EU in terms of public opinion.

And remember that it can go through all of this negotiating process, you're still going to have to put this to your public and persuade the other 27 member states and, therefore, in turn, their publics, that you you should be a member. That's a really formidable set of obstacles to overcome, I think.

VERJEE: Richard Whitman with Chatham House. Thank you so much.

Trapped by debt and forced into labor. It may be illegal, but it is still going on. After the break, we're going to shine a spotlight on modern-day slavery as CNN's Freedom Project goes to Afghanistan.


VERJEE: Over the course of a year, we're investigating the dark world of modern-day slavery. There are an estimated 10 million to 30 million slaves in the world today, and through our CNN Freedom Project, we want to shed some light on the victims and expose the perpetrators. We also want you to meet those who fight to end the trade in human life.

Now, we know it's not a problem we can solve with our coverage alone, but we do hope that we can put it in the spotlight with stories and interviews that you will not see anywhere else.

So, all this week, we're investigating a type of slavery known as bonded labor or debt bondage. That's where labor's demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. First up, Phil Black takes us to eastern Afghanistan, looking at how entire families find themselves burdened with impossible debt.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Among these figures crouching and working in the mud is eight-year-old Sadat. He's good at his job, but with a grim smile, he tells me he hates it.

SADAT, EIGHT-YEAR-OLD (through translator): "I am angry and sad," he says. "God willing, we'll finish this work. It's very hard for us."

BLACK (voice-over): With impressive precision, he carves off lumps of clay with his hands, rolls them, passes them to his brothers. They slap the clay in to molds, wipe off the excess, and flip out a brick.

The process is repeated endlessly, producing thousands of bricks a day.

These five brothers, aged 7 to 17, and their father, Pacha (ph), have lived like this for three years.

PACHA, BONDED LABORER (through translator): "I feel very sad for my sons," Pacha says. "We have to work to pay back our debt or the owner will get angry with us."

BLACK (voice-over): Pacha, whose leg was blown off by a landmine, first worked here after borrowing about $350 from his village to provide for his family. Then, his own father got sick, and he had to borrow $900 from the owner of the brick works to pay medical bills.

Pacha and his sons labor six days a week to repay the debt. He says it will take years.

Nearby, another family with young children and a similar story. Zabeola (ph) fled this country's violence, seeking refuge in Pakistan. There, he borrowed money from a brick factory to feed his children, but there wasn't enough work to repay it.

So he and his sons returned to Afghanistan to raise funds to honor their debt. He owes around $1400. He and his sons earn $4 a day.

ZABEOLA, BONDED LABORER (through translator): "What can we do? This is our life," he says. "They're working all day, at night, they're very tired. It makes me feel very sad."

BLACK (voice-over): These are stories from just one brick kiln on the outskirts of Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan whose owner allowed us to shoot video here, but would not grant us an interview.

There are around 60 other kilns in the district. It's an industry largely built on the hard labor of families who are slowly paying off debt. It's called bonded labor, and human rights groups say it's the most common form of enslavement in the world today.

Local officials estimate there are as many as 4,000 children growing up in the dust and mud of Jalalabad's brick kilns.

BLACK (on camera): The United Nations has tried to help these children by setting up community schools so they get at least a couple hours education a day, but the locals have told us they don't work. The teachers don't show up. Neither do the students.

So, it means all the children we've met today are trapped. Their lives are on hold, and it's going to be years before they can even hope to think about their future.

Under Afghan law, it's illegal for children to do any sort of work until they turn 15, and they're not supposed to work physically like this until they're 18. But child labor laws are meaningless here. They're never enforced.

Sadat says his dream is to finish this job, go back to school, become a doctor, and help his country. But he knows it's an empty dream. Phil Black, CNN, Jalalabad, Afghanistan.


VERJEE: Now, we really want to hear from you all about fighting slavery. This week, we're going to share some of your messages to us. This is Danielle, and after learning about child slavery in the chocolate industry across parts of Africa, she posted this to encourage people to switch to fair trade products.

Bernice is also a college student from Washington, and she wants to lend her voice in spreading awareness of abuse against women and children.

And then, I want you to meet Richard Baxter. He founded a site called Subjectify. It aims to stop the media from treating women as objects. He posts this pic of how he is taking a stand.

And then, meet Diego. He says everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

And finally, this is Heather Murray. She volunteers at a non-profit groups that uses ideas from the "Harry Potter" novels to get children involved in social justice issues. Thanks, guys.

Now, you can become iReporters, too, for our CNN Freedom Project. Take a virtual stand against human trafficking. Just head to We've also posted a lot more details about how you can do this on our Facebook page. That's

Just make sure you send in your iReport and you, too, could be on our show a little bit later this week.

Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, the accidental humanitarian. Meet the traveler who ended up rescuing children in Nepal taken from their parents on the promise that they would be given a better life. Find out what really happened to them. Your Connector of the Day has the truth. That's next.


VERJEE: Tourism can make the problem of human trafficking worse because the sex trade depends on it. But it can also be the solution.

Tonight's Connector of the Day is a traveler. He went to Nepal and he unexpectedly uncovered a racket that has totally changed his life and that of hundreds of children thought lost to their families. Let's get you connected with Conor Grennan.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The natural beauty of Nepal is easy to see. Not so obvious is its dark underbelly of child exploitation.

American traveler Conor Grennan discovered it whilst volunteering in an orphanage in 2004. There, he learned the children weren't orphans but, rather, young girls and boys taken from their parents on the promise of education only to be trafficked.

And so began Next Generation Nepal, the not-for-profit organization Conor set up to reunite these children with their families. He's since penned a book on his journey, and he told Becky Anderson that setting up a charity was the last thing on his mind when he set off seven years ago on the trip of a lifetime.

CONOR GRENNAN, AUTHOR, "LITTLE PRINCES": I was going to travel around the world. I'd been living in Europe for about eight years. I was taking a break for one year. Went around the world.

I was going to just sort of party my way around the world until some friends guilted me into volunteering. Then, I realized that working in an orphanage would be, actually, a pretty good pickup line for women.

And so, I started off in Nepal. It was no sort of -- nothing more noble than that. And I started off in an orphanage, got in there. It was a little tough in the beginning, but after a couple of months living with 18 children in the middle of a small village in Nepal, I got really attached to them.

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Juliette, one of our viewers, voices concerns about sex trafficking in the region, and she asks, are some of the children victims of that, as well? And I think you did discover that this adoption center was not what it seemed.

GRENNAN: Yes. Trafficking sort of has a lot of different faces to it. It's not something I think a lot of people maybe understand.

For sure, sexual trafficking is a serious issue. A lot of the girls end up in India from Nepal. But the trafficking that we've seen has been for institutionalization.

That means that especially during the Maoist Conflict between 96 and 2006, children were taken out of the villages. Parents literally paid traffickers to take them away to safety, to the Kathmandu Valley. And assuming to -- they would be put in homes and given an education.

That didn't happen. They would be sold as slaves, the would be abandoned. That's what happened with literally thousands of children in Kathmandu who are still missing.

ANDERSON: Just talk us through some of the stories that you've heard from the kids themselves.

GRENNAN: Hearing from the kids themselves is pretty unbelievable. The first thing that surprised me was that they didn't even tell us they were orphans, ever, by their own free will. And that was after knowing them for about six months.

It was when a mother actually showed up at the orphanage and told us this, because they knew that they would get beaten, because the traffickers would, essentially, send them out into the streets.

They would make them beg, and then they would go up to tourists and say, "Can you come see my dilapidated orphanage? Can you give me a donation?" And good-hearted tourists would give them $100 to take back.

But these children, when I heard their stories about being marched out of the mountains in places from -- no roads, no electricity, nothing -- no way of getting out, they would be marched for literally ten days thinking they were going to be taken care of and, at the last minute, they would be sold.

ANDERSON: So, what did you do?

GRENNAN: I literally flew a plane as deep into the mountains as I could, put a backpack on, and just started walking. And I walked for four weeks with literally photos of the kids from village to village. They had probably never seen anybody like me before. And one by one, I started tracking down the families of these children.

ANDERSON: And what sort of response did you get from these families?

GRENNAN: As soon as I started talking to the elders and showing them photos and telling them that -- the names of the children, they would go get the parents, and the parents would show up not having any idea why I was there.

Again, they'd lost their children maybe four or five years earlier. They'd really given them up for dead. They'd never heard from them ever again. And I would literally bring their child back to life for them, and they would just -- they were overcome with emotion.

ANDERSON: Lucia from Nicaragua asks how families reacted when they found out the truth.

GRENNAN: You know, I expected them to really turn everything around and I expected awareness-raising to be really easy. It was harder than I thought, I think because people didn't know me. But this trafficker, they did know.

And he's today, the main guy in this book, "Little Princes," he is, in fact, head of a political party out in Nepal. These are men that people trusted. It's taken us a lot of years to actually build the trust of the parents and let them know that we're the ones -- we're the good guys. We're the ones trying to help their kids.

ANDERSON: Lucia also asks, do you receive any threats from the traffickers?

GRENNAN: Yes. Unfortunately, we do. And it was much worse a few years ago. But we literally had volunteers that I was working with that -- and before we started Next Generation Nepal, my organization -- who were threatened so badly that they actually had to flee the country.

As soon as I left, our new country director was -- they broke into her house with knives and threatened her. We've constantly gotten threats from them.

But it's hopefully getting a little bit better, but there's always the huge threat of traffickers, which makes this situation so urgent.

ANDERSON: Why do you keep going?

GRENNAN: I keep going for the same reason I did in the beginning. Listen, Becky, I'm not the kind of guy that volunteered. That's not me. I'm not the kind of guy that ever set out to do something like this.

But I was the one that showed up. And I was the only guy doing it, and so it turned out I was the only guy who stayed and did it. And so, there's a lot of people out there doing that.

But when you find seven kids who are abandoned, and then they get stolen from us, as it happened to us, I had to go back to Nepal, I had no choice but to try to hunt them down. And it took ten months, but nobody else was doing it, and I couldn't give up on them.

ANDERSON: What is the Nepalese government doing about the problem? And are you -- you talked about the resistance that you face just as far as your security is concerned from traffickers, but what other sort of resistance are you facing?

GRENNAN: We're -- what really kind of infuriates us about the Nepalese government -- and we do have friends in the government -- however, they are just not prioritizing this. They are -- they allow 400 to 600 illegal orphanages to operate with no real threat of shutting them down and no real rule of law working against the traffickers.

It's a constant uphill battle, and it makes our job so much harder.


VERJEE: Author of "Little Princes," Conor Grennan, there, speaking to Becky Anderson and kick-starting a great week of Connectors on our show.

Among them, the man who brought us droids, Jedi, and Wookiees. You know who I'm talking about, right? This guy, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas. He'll be joining us and will tell us all about his latest adventure into a galaxy far, far away. Join us for that interview this week.

And to find out more about your upcoming Connectors, just head to

In tonight's Parting Shots, you can find all kinds of really cool things at garage sales. Collectibles, furniture, nice little trinkets. And if you're lucky, really lucky, you'll uncover something amazing.

Like this guy. Back in 1980, photographer Anton Fury picked up a folder of negatives and, apparently, they're unpublished photos of the young iconic Marilyn Monroe. Just days before her 85th birthday, he's shown them to CNN.

Back then, Anton paid -- wait for it -- $2. Yes, $2 for the folder of those negatives. Three decades later, we still don't know that much about the pictures themselves, but there is some hope that the mystery will be revealed.

Anton's taken the photos to a dealer in Los Angeles who's taking a close look at them hoping to uncover the truth.

Head to to read the full article on the Marilyn Monroe garage sale pictures and what the valuers have managed to find out so far.

I'm Zain Verjee, that's your world connected. Thanks a lot for joining us. The world headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break.