Serbia in 2008 knew whereabouts of fugitive Mladic: US cable

9th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Serbia was in 2008 well aware of the whereabouts of top fugitive genocide suspect Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, a leaked US diplomatic cable published Thursday said.

According to cables released by WikiLeaks and published by The New York Times, a Spanish diplomat in the Balkans, Ramon Abaroa, claimed in 2008 that Serbia "knows perfectly well where Mladic is."

Serbian President Boris Tadic however denied the claim, pointing out that "Serbia in 2008 had two governments, one led by Vojislav Kostunica until May elections, and another of Mirko Cvetkovic formed in July."

It was not clear when in 2008 Abaroa made the remark, whether it was before or after the hardline nationalist prime minister Kostunica lost the elections to pro-European forces led by Tadic's Democratic Party.

"The Cvetkovic government did not know" Mladic's whereabouts at the time, Tadic told reporters, according to B92 television.

Kostunica was a staunch opponent of arrests of war crime suspects and his government reluctantly cooperated with The Hague-based UN war crimes court for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) dealing with war crimes.

Mladic, Bosnian Serb wartime military chief, is wanted by ICTY for his role in the 1992-1995 conflict, notably for the 44-month seize of Sarajevo and massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica.

According to The New York Times, a secret cable from November 2009 said Bosnia's top international representative Valentin Inzko worried the United States was "abandoning the Mladic case".

His deputy, an American diplomat, meanwhile complained that all US "military elements working on war crimes issues have left."

The cables revealed that US diplomats had also reported that Tadic's advisors, notably Miki Rakic, complained about a lack of cooperation from Russia.

"Mr. Rakic even travelled to Russia to confront the national security advisor, Nikolai Patrushev, about whether Russians were aiding Mr. Mladic, who during his army career maintained close ties with the Russian military," The New York Times quoted diplomatic correspondence released by WikiLeaks as saying.

Russia has been an old ally of Serbia, providing strong support to its bid to prevent and later to reject Kosovo's unilaterally proclaimed independence.

It has also been a safe shelter for the family of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, whose son Marko and wife Mira Markovic were given political asylum there despite accusations at home of abuse of power and cigarette smuggling.

© 2010 AFP

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