Bosnian genocide suspect Mladic en route to The Hague
The highest-ranking Bosnian genocide and war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic is reported by Serb television to be en route to The Hague. The fugitive general was arrested just hours earlier in the home of a relative in the Serbian village of Lazarevo.
Serb President Boris Tadic confirmed the arrest at a hastily arranged press conference on Thursday afternoon. The former commander of Bosnian Serb forces was indicted for the genocide of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ICTY.
Srebrenica was supposed to be a safe haven for Muslims fleeing ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian War. It was guarded by Dutch troops, who were overwhelmed by the heavily armed Serbs and unable to defend the enclave.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who is visiting the Balkan region, has urged Serb authorities to hand over Mladic to the ICTY as quickly as possible. She called the arrest an important step forward for Serbia.
Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said this is a very important moment, sixteen years after the fall of Srebrenica. He said the move brought Serbia a step closer to joining the European Union; capture of the war crimes suspect was one of the requisites for joining the EU.
A subsequent report on the fall of Srebrenica had caused the Dutch cabinet, under then Prime Minister Wim Kok, to resign in 2002.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide