Mladic arrives in the Netherlands to face war crimes charges

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic arrived Tuesday at Rotterdam airport in the Netherlands on his way to The Hague to face war crimes charges, Dutch news agency ANP said.

A plane transporting Mladic, 69, touched down at 1745 GMT, it said.

Images broadcast on Dutch television showed a plane with "Republic of Serbia" inscribed on the side touch down at Rotterdam and taxi to a hangar, followed by two black jeeps, to a waiting Dutch police helicopter.

Mladic will be transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and taken to the UN detention unit in The Hague, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) away.

There he will join his former Bosnian Serb political chief Radovan Karadzic, currently on trial.

The prosecution has charged Mladic, head of the Bosnian Serb army, with genocide, persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts and cruel treatment for his part in a plot to achieve the "elimination or permanent removal" of Muslims from large parts of Bosnia in pursuit of a "Greater Serbia".

He is accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

He is also charged for his alleged role in the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo in which 10,000 people died.

Earlier Tuesday, Serbian judges rejected Mladic's appeal against a transfer to the UN-backed ICTY to stand trial for alleged atrocities committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Europe's most wanted man was arrested in the village of Lazarevo in northeast Serbia on Thursday after almost 16 years on the run. He was in the custody of the Serbian war crimes court in Belgrade until his transfer to the Netherlands.

Mladic's son, Darko, has said his father insists "he had nothing to do with" the Srebrenica massacre, and had in fact saved lives.

Earlier Tuesday, Mladic paid a visit to the grave of his daughter Ana, who committed suicide aged 23 reportedly because of the accusations against her father.

The retired general was taken under police guard to the Topcidersko cemetery in Belgrade and later returned to his detention cell, before being put on a plane to the Netherlands.

© 2011 AFP

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