Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Genocide General Mladic Extradited To Hague

Bosnian Serb genocide suspect Ratko Mladic was on a plane Tuesday en route to Netherlands to face war crime charges before a tribunal after losing an appeal against extradition, Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said.

16 years after the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by troops under his command forced the West's hand in the Bosnian war.

Associated Press reporters at the Belgrade airport saw the Falcon jet take of from the Belgrade airport at 5:40 p.m. (1540 GMT), minutes after Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said Mladic was on the airplane.

"Serbia has fulfilled its moral obligation by its extradition of Mladic to The Hague," she said. "Bringing Ratko Mladic in front of justice is a satisfaction to all the victims and their families,"

The decision sends a clear message that all who are accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia will be brought to justice, Malovic said.

"Serbia will never be a safe ground for anyone who has committed war crimes anywhere," she said.

Mladic's lawyer said earlier that he expected to learn Tuesday whether the former Bosnian Serb general would get new medical exams. Lawyer Milos Saljic argued that Mladic would not be able to participate in a trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia because of his ill health.

Saljic wants Mladic examined by specialists "who can investigate his specific needs," including a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist, a psychiatrist and a neurologist.

Saljic is also applying for Mladic's unpaid pension from the years when he was in hiding, he said, saying he was acting on behalf of Mladic's family.

Chief prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic denied Monday that Mladic was in poor health, saying that he was "lively and joking," and had asked for Russian classics to read.

Mladic's son, Darko, told an ultranationalist rally Sunday that that his father is sick. "He needs medical treatment that he is not getting," the younger Mladic said. He described his father as "a freedom fighter," and said he had "defended his own nation, defended his people, which was his job.". The younger Mladic called on protesters to keep the demonstration peaceful on Sunday, but protesters clashed with Serbian police anyway.

Nearly 20 people were injured in the violence -- seven police and 12 civilians -- according to police. They said they made more than 100 arrests.

The Serbian Radical Party held its protest Sunday in front of Serbia's parliament building.
Mladic gave himself up without a fight Thursday, despite having two handguns, according to Rasim Ljajic, the government minister in charge of searching for fugitive suspected war criminals.

Officials located Mladic in a village called Lazarevo, north of the Serbian capital, after culling information from his former comrades, those who supported him financially and his close family members, Ljajic said.

It is not clear what source led investigators to the former military commander.

His arrest clears a major hurdle that once stood between Serbia and its long-awaited entrance into the European Union, but the move could also usher in political backlash from the country's electorate, some of whom consider Mladic a hero.

The massacre at Srebrenica, which sparked international outcry and preceded a NATO bombing campaign, is now remembered as the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Mladic is accused of presiding over the five-day slaughter in July 1995, in which Muslim men and boys were systematically executed in what was described at the U.N. war crimes tribunal as "the triumph of evil."

The town was a U.N.-declared "safe area" where thousands of Bosnian Muslims had sought refuge. But Mladic's forces encircled it and allegedly conducted wholesale slaughter and rape, despite the presence of a few hundred lightly armed Dutch U.N. peacekeepers charged with protecting the area's residents and its refugees.

The former general is considered the last of the fugitive war criminal suspects in the region. Previously captured were Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in jail in 2006 during his trial at The Hague.

A medical team had determined that Mladic is healthy enough to be extradited to face a war crimes tribunal, a court spokeswoman in Belgrade said Friday.

While the war crimes suspect suffers from several chronic conditions, the team said there were no immediate problems barring a move.

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