27. January 2010.

Evidence suggest that indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic is hiding in Serbia

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Evidence points to Mladic hiding in Serbia, says UN prosecutor

Jan 26, 2010, 16:36 GMT

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var PageContent= ‘ Brussels – Intelligence reports indicate that a Bosnian Serb general accused of the worst war crime committed in Europe since the Second World War is still hiding in Serbia, the top prosecutor of the United Nations tribunal for Former Yugoslavia told the European Parliament on Tuesday.

Ratko Mladic faces charges of genocide for the 1995 killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, in one of the last acts of the Bosnian civil war that left over 100,000 dead between 1992 and 1995.

He is one of the last two fugitives from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The other is former Serbian Croat leader Goran Hadzic.

‘On the basis of the information we have received from Serbia, we have no reason to believe they are not in Serbia,’ said ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz during a hearing before the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, specifying he had ‘daily contact’ with Serbian intelligence.

Mladic and Hadzic’s arrest is seen as a key precondition for Serbia’s progress toward joining the European Union. EU governments are set to decide in June, on the basis of Brammertz’ next report to the UN Security Council, whether the country’s bid for membership deserves to be moved forward.

The UN prosecutor said it was ‘extremely important’ to maintain this ‘conditionality,’ but warned he had ‘nothing new to report’ beyond what he said in December, when Serbia’s efforts to catch Mladic and Hadzic were deemed ‘satisfactory.’

That positive assessment led EU states to unfreeze a pre-accession deal with Serbia. If Brammertz is still satisfied in June, they could start ratifying the deal and allow the European Commission to start processing Belgrade’s formal EU application, which was presented last month.

Croatia’s accession to the EU also depends on Brammertz’s evaluations, as the ICTY has urged Zagreb to produce documents on military operations conducted by Croatian indictee Ante Gotovina, or to explain why they disappeared.

‘What we are asking is comprehensive and credible investigations (…) what we are expecting is not impossible,’ he stressed.

Brammertz acknowledged the Croatian government, led by Jadranka Kosor, took some positive steps – establishing a ‘task force’ to hunt down the documents – but he added: ‘I would have preferred if these efforts were made two years ago when we first asked for the documents, rather than now.’

Finally, the Belgian-born prosecutor stated that the ICTY is set to complete all its first-instance trials between 2011 and 2012, and all its appeals by 2013 or 2014. He added that this year it will start ‘seriously downsizing,’ with ‘important’ cuts in the budget and a 60-per-cent reduction in staff.

The tribunal was meant to wind down in 2010, but delays in court proceedings and the unexpected arrest of some fugitives – including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in 2008 – have forced the original schedule to be abandoned.

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Brussels – Intelligence reports indicate that a Bosnian Serb general accused of the worst war crime committed in Europe since the Second World War is still hiding in Serbia, the top prosecutor of the United Nations tribunal for Former Yugoslavia told the European Parliament on Tuesday.

Ratko Mladic faces charges of genocide for the 1995 killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, in one of the last acts of the Bosnian civil war that left over 100,000 dead between 1992 and 1995.

He is one of the last two fugitives from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The other is former Serbian Croat leader Goran Hadzic.

‘On the basis of the information we have received from Serbia, we have no reason to believe they are not in Serbia,’ said ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz during a hearing before the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, specifying he had ‘daily contact’ with Serbian intelligence.

Mladic and Hadzic’s arrest is seen as a key precondition for Serbia’s progress toward joining the European Union. EU governments are set to decide in June, on the basis of Brammertz’ next report to the UN Security Council, whether the country’s bid for membership deserves to be moved forward.

The UN prosecutor said it was ‘extremely important’ to maintain this ‘conditionality,’ but warned he had ‘nothing new to report’ beyond what he said in December, when Serbia’s efforts to catch Mladic and Hadzic were deemed ‘satisfactory.’

That positive assessment led EU states to unfreeze a pre-accession deal with Serbia. If Brammertz is still satisfied in June, they could start ratifying the deal and allow the European Commission to start processing Belgrade’s formal EU application, which was presented last month.

Croatia’s accession to the EU also depends on Brammertz’s evaluations, as the ICTY has urged Zagreb to produce documents on military operations conducted by Croatian indictee Ante Gotovina, or to explain why they disappeared.

‘What we are asking is comprehensive and credible investigations (…) what we are expecting is not impossible,’ he stressed.

Brammertz acknowledged the Croatian government, led by Jadranka Kosor, took some positive steps – establishing a ‘task force’ to hunt down the documents – but he added: ‘I would have preferred if these efforts were made two years ago when we first asked for the documents, rather than now.’

Finally, the Belgian-born prosecutor stated that the ICTY is set to complete all its first-instance trials between 2011 and 2012, and all its appeals by 2013 or 2014. He added that this year it will start ‘seriously downsizing,’ with ‘important’ cuts in the budget and a 60-per-cent reduction in staff.

The tribunal was meant to wind down in 2010, but delays in court proceedings and the unexpected arrest of some fugitives – including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in 2008 – have forced the original schedule to be abandoned.

Read more: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1528618.php/Evidence-points-to-Mladic-hiding-in-Serbia-says-UN-prosecutor#ixzz0dom3KK2i

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