The arrest of Ratko Mladic after he spent 16 years on the run demonstrates that “ending impunity requires a united front,” the chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkan conflicts said today, pledging that the Bosnian Serb wartime military figure would receive a fair trial.
Serge Brammertz told journalists in The Hague, where the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is based, that Mr. Mladic’s transfer yesterday to the custody of the ICTY was significant for international justice.
“His arrest confirms that no one can count on impunity for war crimes,” Mr. Brammertz said, noting that just one person – Goran Hadžic, who led a self-proclaimed breakaway state within Croatia – out of a total of 161 indicted by the tribunal is still at large.
Mr. Brammertz thanked the efforts of Serbian authorities in arresting Mr. Mladic last week, including President Boris Tadic, the Serbian National Security Council and the country’s security services.
“The international community has also played a significant role in bringing about Ratko Mladic’s arrest. This arrest is proof that ending impunity requires a united front.
“We particularly thank the European Union for giving Serbia positive incentives to cooperate with the tribunal. We also acknowledge civil society, which has insisted on holding Ratko Mladic accountable and provided great support to my office on this issue.”
Mr. Mladic, who served as a colonel general and as commander of the main staff of the Bosnian Serb army during the Balkan conflicts, is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The indictment against him, which was amended today, includes allegations about his role in the notorious killing of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica in 1995 and in the protracted and deadly siege of the city of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995.
Mr. Brammertz said the rights of Mr. Mladic – whose first appearance before the tribunal is scheduled for Friday morning – will be respected during his upcoming trial.
“We will draw on the many lessons we have learned over the years to make the Mladic prosecution successful. Our challenge is to present a manageable case that reasonably reflects Ratko Mladic’s alleged criminality and the harms suffered by his victims.”