Death of world’s most-wanted terrorist strips Serbia of one more excuse for not having found the war-crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, military expert says.
By Bojana Barlovac
Serbian officials have often said that they could not be expected to catch the former Bosnian Serb commander while even the world’s greatest power could not track down the Al-Qaeda boss, Osama Bin Laden.
The example of the failed hunt for Bin Laden was frequently cited by Serbian government officials as a point of comparison. The official search for Mladic started at about the same time as the US declared its “war on terror” in 2001.
Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, a Belgrade military analyst, says it now turns out that “Mladic was better hidden than Bin Laden”.
With Bin Laden located and killed, Serbia may come under renewed pressure to find the ex-general, wanted for the mass slaughter of 8,000 Bosniaks [Muslims] in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, in 1995, among other crimes.
Stojadinovic said he believed that the network of Mladic helpers is not nearly as big as Bin Laden’s had been, and they are far less fanatical about shielding him from justice.
“He remains at large mainly because he is constantly getting information from the same headquarters that are supposed to be in charge of his arrest,” Stojadinovic added.
Serbia’s security services were still clearly stronger than the Serbian state, he concluded.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, charges the ex-general with genocide and other grave war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
His arrest is seen as crucial for Serbia’s hopes of moving towards membership of the European Union.
The chief of the UN war crimes court, Serge Brammertz, is expected to give his assessment of Serbia’s search on May 10, when he is due to visit Belgrade before submitting a report on the country’s cooperation with the ICTY to the UN Security Council.