Where the hell is one of the most wanted men in the world, Ratko Mladic, the Serbian general indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions surrounding the ’92-’95 siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of over 8,000 Bosniak men at Srebrenica? The failure to locate him has frustrated the international community and certainly former Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte.
In the Balkans, where often times rumor is reported as fact, it is hard to differentiate between real evidence of Ratko’s location and just plain speculation. After all, sightings of Ratko seemingly rival that of Elvis.
But one thing appears certain, fair or not. Mladic’s capture is intimately tied to Serbia’s inclusion into the EU. To many EU countries, capturing Mladic will be a sign — real or not — that Serbia has shed its ultra ethnic and nationalistic tendencies that were the cause of so much bloodshed in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The premise of that argument — again, fair or not — is that Belgrade either knows of Mladic’s whereabouts and is not doing anything about it or that Belgrade is not appearing to do as much as it can to locate and bring Mladic to justice. Indeed, the appearance of reality is just as important as reality itself. And the failure of Serbia to locate and capture Mladic — fair or not — raises suspicions by the international community that Serbia is stonewalling for the very same reasons that precipitated the wars in the Balkans.
The question is whether these suspicions are grounded in reality or whether they underscore, as the Serbs point out, a bias against them. Of course, these questions are not mutually exclusive.
Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor said wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Gen. Ratko Mladic is believed to be in Serbia, while his political leader Radovan Karadzic is in the Balkan region, the Beta news agency reported Tuesday. Vladimir Vukcevic said the two most wanted war crimes fugitives would be arrested and handed to the U.N. war crimes tribunal when “more closely” located, according to the report.
It was not clear from the report if authorities had indeed discovered a general location of the two, who have been indicted by the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for the slaughter of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 by the Bosnian Serb troops. However, Serbia’s Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said that he has no new knowledge about Mladic being in Serbia.
“I have no such knowledge and I don’t know on which basis Vukcevic said it,” Sutanovac told reporters.
Mladic, who was last seen in Belgrade 2006, is believed by U.N. war crimes prosecutors to be hiding under the protection of his hardline allies in the Serb military. Karadzic, who disappeared from public view in 1998, is possibly being sheltered by the nationalist clergy within the Serbian Orthodox Church, they said. (Source: Associated Press)