Mladic arrest closes 'unhappy chapter' for Serbia: Britain

26th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the arrest of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic Thursday was a chance for Serbians to draw a line under atrocities in their past.

"It gives the people of Serbia a chance to close or at least begin to close a very unhappy chapter in their history," Fox said after the arrest was announced by Serbian President Boris Tadic.

Speaking at the G8 summit in France shortly before the arrest was confirmed, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "He is accused of the most appalling war crimes both in terms of what happened in Srebrenica but also in Sarajevo."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was a "historic moment", adding: "We now look forward to the rapid transfer of Rakto Mladic to The Hague so that the charges against him can be heard in an international court of law."

Mladic is the most wanted fugitive of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

He has been on the run since 1995 and faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role in the Srebrenica massacre and the bloody siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

In a statement, Hague said the arrest was a "historic moment" for the region, saying: "Today should mark the beginning of a new chapter for the countries of Western Balkans."

He added: "We congratulate the Serbian authorities on this arrest, which is evidence of the Serbian government's commitment to co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia."

In an interview with Sky News television, Fox said Mladic's arrest was "a reminder to all those who are flying in the face of international justice that sooner or later they will be brought to book for their crimes".

Srebrenica was "an appalling and vile crime and it will stand in history as one of the most appalling examples of inhumanity that's been applied by those who held military power", he added.

But he said the international military intervention to protect civilians in Libya "shows how the international community has learned from previous mistakes... that's something we should take pride in."

© 2011 AFP

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