Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

Reports on Mladic capture spark confusion

The Serbian government on Tuesday night (21 February) denied reports on the arrest of top Bosnia Serb war crimes suspect general Ratko Mladic.

Bosnia's television station TV BN reported general Mladic was arrested in the Serbian capital of Belgrade and being transported to the Hague via the Bosnian town of Tuzla.

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  • Ratko Mladic is one of the top fugitives on the UN tribunal's list of war criminal suspects (Photo: ICTY)

The report was picked up by Serbian press agency Tanjug, but Serb authorities reacted by saying that such speculation detracted from Belgrade's efforts "to fully complete its co-operation with The Hague".

Later, Serbian dailies Glas Javnosti and Blic wrote that general Mladic was at a secure location discussing the conditions for his surrender, BBC reports.

Other leading regional newspapers indicate the net around the fugitive is closing and the operation to finalise his capture is under way, while western correspondents also report that talks between Serbian officials and Mr Mladic's allies have been carried out.

General Mladic is accused of war crimes during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, the former Yugoslavia, and features on the most wanted list of the UN Hague tribunal (ICTY).

He is held responsible for the siege of Sarajevo, which claimed at least 10,000 lives, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were killed.

Belgrade has been under international pressure to arrest the general and transfer him to the Hague, with the tribunal's prosecutor Carla del Ponte claiming he is within reach of the Serbian authorities.

The prosecutor's spokeswoman Florence Hartmann told the Associated Press on Tuesday "We have said for the last 10 days that the arrest could take place very quickly."

But Ms Del Ponte's office also said it "formally" dismissed reports that the general had already been arrested.

EU enlargement commissioner Oli Rehn is due to report to the bloc's foreign ministers early next week on how the Serbian authorities co-operate with the Hague.

Brussels has previously warned no further step on the country's path to the EU can be made without more efforts to deliver Mr Mladic.

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