Tuesday 20 February 2018

Serbian war crimes suspect arrested

Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic. Photo: Reuters

Independent.ie reporters

Serbian police have arrested the wanted war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.

Serbian president Boris Tadic has just confirmed his arrest at a press conference in the capital city Belgrade.

Mladic identified himself as Milorad Komadic when he was arrested earlier today.

Mladic is sought by the United Nations' international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for genocide during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Serbia has to arrest him if it wants to join the European Union.

Serbia's war crimes prosecutors refused to confirm or deny the report. President Boris Tadic will hold a media conference shortly.

Mladic is alleged to have been involved in the Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslims in July 1995, and the siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 12,000 civilians died.

He is one of two remaining fugitives still wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTfY), along with Goran Hadzic, a former Croatian Serb leader, who is believed to be in hiding in Serbia.

Mladic was the military chief of Radovan Karadzic, the wartime Bosnian Serb political leader, who was captured in Belgrade in July 2008.

He is also charged with the killing, deportation and forcible transfer of non-Serbs in support of "ethnic cleansing" campaigns in Bosnia in 1992 and 1993.

The Srebrenica massacre is considered the single worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In the five days after Bosnian Serb forces took control of the town, at least 8,000 Muslim men and boys, aged from 12 to 77, were murdered, after they were separated out for "interrogation for suspected war crimes" by the Serbs.

Mladic is accused of involvement in the torture, abuse, sexual violence and beatings of Bosnian Muslims, and of creating conditions in detention facilities "calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Bosnian Muslims".

He also faces charges over attempts to conceal the executions of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by reburying, in isolated locations, bodies exhumed from mass graves.

The indictment alleges that Mladic "was a member of a joint criminal enterprise whose objective was the elimination or permanent removal of Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat, or other non-Serb inhabitants from large areas of (Bosnia and Herzegovina)".

Mladic led Bosnian Serb troops throughout the 1992-1995 conflict.

At the end of the war, Mladic returned to Belgrade, where he went into hiding. Mladic was believed to be in or near the Serbian capital, under the protection of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president, until Milosevic's arrest in 2001.

In 2004, it was reported that Mladic was being aided by Bosnian Serb military forces, while in 2008 Belgrade admitted he had been under military protection until mid-2002.

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