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War crimes arrest sparks strong feelings in Serbia

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War crimes arrest sparks strong feelings in Serbia


People in Serbia have been reacting to the arrest of a former general accused of genocide. The detention of Zdravko Tolimir could improve the country’s chances of joining the EU. A close aide to the fugitive Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic, Tolimir was being transferred to the Hague war crimes tribunal.

Some defended the men’s military actions. “This was not nice but it is our duty,” said a woman on the streets of Belgrade. “These people defended their own country. I don’t believe they are criminals.”

But others welcomed news of the arrest “They should have done it a long time ago,” a man declared, adding that such figures are standing in the way of Serbia joining the EU. “The whole nation is suffering,” he said.

Top-level talks between the European Union and Serbia’s President Boris Tadic today come just hours after Tolimir was detained over the border in eastern Bosnia. Said to now be in bad health, he is alleged to have helped Mladic plan and execute the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

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