Mladic at large puts EU credibility at stake: UN prosecutor

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It is essential for the credibility of the European Union that Ratko Mladic, the last major war crimes suspect from the Bosnian war, be arrested, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor has said.

In an interview published Saturday in the German newspaper Die Welt, Serge Brammertz linked the capture and trial of the fugitive Bosnian Serb general with the quest for lasting stability in the region.

His arrest "remains a test for the credibility of the European Union," he said, speaking on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massace in which around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males were killed by Serb forces.

That incident -- Europe's worst since World War II -- is among several for which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has indicted Mladic, 68, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Some 5,000 people are participating this weekend in a memorial walk to Srebrenica, retracing the steps of those who perished in July 1995 in what had been a UN-declared safe area.

"Without judicial work, there can be no reconciliation, and the stability of the Balkans will thus remain a theoretical matter," said Brammertz, a Belgian judge who spoke in his native German language.

To those who say the 1992-95 war in Bosnia is a thing of the past, and that the Balkans must look forwards, Brammertz replied: "I advise each of them to talk with the surivivors of Srebrenica."

"For these victims, it's not yesterday, it is everyday," he said, adding that it was a matter of concern that within Serbia, "65 percent are against the arrest of Mladic, who is still on the run."

"It is not normal that those presumed to be responsible for the worst crimes on European soil since World War II are still perceived as heros by a part of the population," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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