Serbia's EU membership a "political" decision: prosecutor

1st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN prosecutor Serge Brammertz hailed Wednesday Serbia's arrest of wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, but said its impact on Belgrade's EU aspirations was a "political decision".

"It is now for the political level: politicians have to decide what weight to give to the arrest," he told journalists at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

Mladic, 69, is due to make his first appearance before the court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity Friday after Serbia extradited him to the Netherlands on Tuesday.

But Brammertz said Mladic's arrest would not prompt changes to his most recent report to the United Nations Security Council, which is highly critical of Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal.

He will officially present the report, already sent to the UN three weeks ago, in New York on Monday.

"There is no reason for me to change the critical report, but we will recognise that with the arrest, Serbia has fulfilled one of its major obligations. I will present that positively before the UN Security Council," Brammertz said.

Cooperation with the ICTY had been a key requirement for Serbia joining the 27-member European Union.

Serbian authorities arrested Mladic last Thursday after nearly 16 years on the run.

Mladic faces charges including persecution, extermination and murder, deportation, inhumane acts, unlawfully inflicting terror on civilians and the taking of hostages for atrocities committed in Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

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 over the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo from May 1992 in which 10,000 people died.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said Friday Serbia must still address "a number of things" on its path to European integration.

© 2011 AFP

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