He was one of the most wanted men in Europe.
Now the Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic has been captured after years on the run from international genocide charges, arrested at a house in the village of Lazarevo in northern Serbia where he had been living under the name of Milorad Komadic..
He was indicted by The international Criminal Court (ICC) in 1995 over the murders of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, but lived a free man in the Serbian capital of Belgrade until the arrest of the former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2001.
Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed Mladic’s arrest at a news conference: “On behalf of the Republic of Serbia I announce that we [have] arrested Ratko Mladic.
“Extradition process is underway. This is the result of full cooperation of Serbia with the Hague Tribunal. We are not making calculations, when and how to deliver him. We are doing that because we truly believe this is in accordance with our law, this is because of our people, Serbs.”
The prosecutor at the UN’s war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said he expected arrangements to be made for the transfer of Mladic to The Hague. He will remain in Serbia until a transfer date has been set.
Mladic is still seen by many Serbs as a hero for his loyal and fearless service to the Serb cause. His capture has also been an outstanding requirement for Serbia’s membership of the European Union.
The EU’s head of foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, welcomed the arrest and called for Mladic to be brought to The Hague as soon as possible. “This is an important step forward for Serbia and for international justice,” Ashton said in a statement. “We expect Ratko Mladic to be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia without delay. Full cooperation with the ICTY remains essential on Serbia’s path towards EU membership.”
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bild added praise for Tadic and said the arrest would help Serbia’s EU aspirations, calling the news “obviously highly important”.
He added: “We can start to close a tragic chapter in the history of Europe. I warmly congratulate President Tadic. I knew his determination to achieve this, and know how hard he worked for it. The European prospects of Serbia are now brighter than ever.”
War crime suspect Mladic arrested at home in Serbia