Bosnian war crimes suspect Mladic is on his way to The Hague

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The highest ranking Bosnian war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic is reported by Serb television to be on his way to The Hague. The fugitive general was arrested just hours earlier in the home of a relative in the Serbian village of Lazarevo.

Serb President Boris Tadic confirmed the arrested at a hastily arranged press conference on Thursday afternoon. The former commander of Bosnian Serb forces was indicted for the genocide of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia ICTY. Srebrenica was supposed to be a safe haven for Muslims fleeing ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war. It was guarded by Dutch troops, who were overwhelmed by the heavily armed Serbs and unable to defend the enclave.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who is visiting the Balkan region, has urged the Serb authorities to hand Mladic over to the ICTY as quickly as possible. She called the arrest an important step forward for Serbia.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal called it a very important moment, sixteen years after the fall of Srebrenica. He said the move brought Serbia a step closer to joining the European Union. A report on the fall of Srebrenica later caused the Dutch government under then prime minister Wim Kok to resign in 2002.

The capture of the war crimes suspect is one of the demands for joining the EU.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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