9th Jul 2020

Pro-Mladic rally in Serbia ends in violence

Thousands of supporters of arrested Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic rallied in Belgrade on Sunday (29 May), clashing with police as the evening protest broke up, leading to some 100 arrests.

Some 8,000 to 10,000 people according to police protested without incident the capture after 16 years of living as a fugitive the man accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of being responsible for the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

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While sizeable, the rally was smaller than the estimated 25,000 who descended upon Belgrade's central Republic Square in 2008 after the arrest of fellow war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.

Youthful protesters toward the end of the hour-and-a-half rally hurled stones and flares at police. Skirmishes occurred at various sites in the centre of the city.

A total of 111 were arrested, according to the interior ministry, with 10 people injured.

By the late evening, the clashes with the 3,000-strong police presence, many posted to protect government buildings and Western embassies, had petered out.

Earlier, leaders of the protest, organised by the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), had accused the Serbian government of treason for the arrest of the man they consider to be a national hero.

The arrest of Mladic was considered a crucial pre-condition for Serbia to take the next step on its way to join the European Union.

Another 3,000 individuals also rallied earlier the same day against the arrest in Kalinovik in Bosnia.

Mladic is expected to be transferred to the UN tribunal in the Hague on Monday or Tuesday, but the exact timing of his movements will not be made public out of fear of further protests.

He is to submit an appeal by post on Monday, his son, Darko said.

Darko, speaking on Sunday, added that his father is not responsible for the Srebrenica massacre. In July 1995, some 8,000 men and boys were killed by the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of Mladic.

Some 10,000 people were killed or went missing during the Siege of Sarajevo, and an estimated 56,000 wounded.

Another high-level Serb war crimes fugitive, Goran Hadzic, remains at large.

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