Global Policy Forum

Mladic “No Longer in Serbia�

Associated Press
May 31, 2004

Faced with international pressure to arrest war crimes suspects, Serbia's top officials today reiterated their claim that former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic is no longer hiding in the country. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said that the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague "must have a certain amount of trust" in the Serbian authorities, which say Mladic is no longer here.

The US and the European Union have demanded that Serbia-Montenegro arrest and extradite Mladic to The Hague before it begins approaching membership in NATO and other international organisations. In April, the US Congress suspended its financial aid to Serbia, specifically mentioning the failure to arrest Mladic, who was indicted by the UN court for genocide for his role in the killing of about 7,000 men and boys in the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The Hague prosecutors maintain that Mladic has been hiding in Serbia since 1995. Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic - believed to be hiding in Bosnia - are the two top fugitives sought by The Hague tribunal. Mladic was frequently seen in public in Serbia during the 1990s reign of Slobodan Milosevic. But he disappeared from public view when the former Yugoslav president was toppled by pro-democracy forces in 2000.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus told reporters today that a search for Mladic in Serbia has been futile and that he believes that he is no longer here. "The international demands for Mladic's arrest are becoming Serbia's biggest hurdle toward European integration," Labus said.

Dragan Marsicanin, the presidential candidate of Kostunica's governing coalition, criticised the Hague tribunal and the West for their pressure over Mladic.

"How can we prove that he is not here?" he asked. "Anyway, why don't they arrest Radovan Karadzic?" added Marsicanin, referring to the NATO-led troops stationed in neighbouring Bosnia who have been looking for the Bosnian Serb leader since 1995. "It's not that simple."

More Information on International Justice
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