After 16 years on the run, Europe’s most wanted war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic has been arrested in Serbia.
“Today we closed one chapter of our difficult history that will bring us one step closer to full reconciliation in the region,” Boris Tadic, Serbia’s president told the media.
“All criminals must face justice.”
The United Nations war crimes tribunal has charged Mladic for alleged war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict including the three-year siege of Sarajevo and for the 8,000 Bosniak men and boys killed in Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.
Mladic was arrested at his cousin’s farm house, just an hour’s drive from Belgrade. News reports say during the arrest, officials noticed Mladic’s arm was paralyzed from a suffered stroke.
He is currently in Serbian custody and is expected to transfer to The Hague in about ten days.
Mladic’s arrest has been a pre-condition for Serbia’s entry into the EU. According to Dnevni Avaz, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leading newspaper, many Serbians are pleased with the news because it enables their country to finally move ahead.
Others however, are angry and are accusing Tadic of betraying their national hero. There are still many Serbians who consider the war criminal a hero for ethnic cleansing the region for a “Greater Serbia.”
According to Al Jazeera news, there is an increasing presence of riot police in Belgrade’s centre in case they need to keep under control what could become a violent protest.
Protests were held when Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic was arrested in 2008, and also during Kosovo’s secession.