Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Ratko Mladic has been arrested

Evelina Topalova, May 28, 2011

Ratko Mladic, considered responsible for the worst massacre in Europe since World War II, has been arrested on Thursday in Serbia. The news, which spread in seconds to all media, has been confirmed by President Boris Tadic at a designated news conference. Although he refused to unveil details, like where precisely and when the former military leader of the Bosnian Serbs had been arrested, local media reported that this happened early in the morning in the village of Lazarevo, near Zrenjanin in North Serbia. Again according to local media, he was hiding in the house of a relative of his, under the name of Milorad Komadic. According to unofficial information, he was not with a beard, but had grown old and did not resist the arrest. Mladic was on his way to jail in the Hague, as the state-owned RTS TV station reported.

Tadic announced the news in a moment when EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Catherine Ashton was about to arrive in Belgrade, and before the report of Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunal in the Hague Serge Brammertz was to be presented.

Mladic's arrest removes a heavy burden from Serbia's shoulders, which was for years in the position of a hostage, as the arrest of the former military leader was a key condition for the country's European integration.

Serbia has closed this page of history, by proving that it sticks to its commitments to the Hague Tribunal, Tadic emphasized. He expressed hope that Mladic's arrest would open EU's doors for Serbia.

In spite of the allegations of his family that the 68-year old Ratko Mladic could be dead, because his health was in poor condition and they had no news from him for years, the Hague Tribunal and the Serbian security services were sure he was alive. What was unknown was where he was hiding.

Let us recall that the former political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic was arrested in 2008, after his disguise was revealed. He was hiding under the name of Dragan Dabic and was practicing alternative medicine. It was expected Mladic too to have changed his appearance in order not to be uncovered and to live freely in Serbia.

Mladic's capture and his standing in front of the court in the Hague will bring justice to the thousands of victims of the war in Bosnia. The Hague Tribunal accused him in 1995 of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the conflict. He is considered responsible for the killing of nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys Muslims in the Srebrenitsa enclave in July 1995.

Bulgaria's Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Nickolay Mladenov said on the occasion that Mladic's facing a trial in the International Tribunal is a proof that crimes against humanity will not remain without consequence. In his words, Serbia from now on should continue with the reforms and to receive a candidate country status as soon as possible so that it could start accession negotiations.