27 May 2011

Ratko Mladic deemed fit to stand trial at Hague

As Ratko Mladic is deemed fit to stand trial at The Hague, the Serbian Interior Minister tells Channel 4 News his arrest was “the same as the Americans finding bin Laden”.

Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic in seen this handout photo taken in Belgrade (Reuters)

Ratko Mladic, who had been on the run for 16 years, was arrested on Thursday.

Mladic’s lawyer said the court halted questioning because his client was “in serious condition” and was “hardly responsive”.

On Friday a judge at the special Serbian war crimes court said Mladic had been examined by a medical commission “which has determined he is fit for further proceedings”.

“Mladic’s lawyer was delivered the extradition papers and he has until Monday to appeal,” judge Maja Kovacevic said.

The arrest of Mladic, the last of the three men blamed for instigating ethnic cleansing during the 1992-5 Bosnian war, was expected to clear the way for the former pariah state of Serbia to join the European Union.

In the early hours of Friday morning, in a Belgrade hotel bar, a Channel 4 News crew watched the Serbian Interior Minister toasting the day’s achievements with the European Commissioner in charge of enlargement, Stefan Füle.

Read more: Ratko Mladic and the Srebrenica massacre

Arrest was ‘no accident’

Serbia’s Interior Minister told Channel 4 News that Mladic had been living with his brother and did not have a big support network.

Ivica Dacic said: “The cops were tracking him in several locations and they came to a house and knocked on the door of one room and asked who the guy was in the pyjamas. He (Mladic) said ‘bravo guys you’ve found the one you’re looking for’.”

“When he was arrested he had a paralysed right hand and it was obvious he wasn’t getting any help and he was just living with his brother.

“We had been looking for a big logistical operation that was supporting him but that was not happening in reality.”

Mr Dacic, who served as Slobodan Milosevic’s spokesman in the 1990s, said the arrest was no accident: “After so many months of working with security data and communications networks, that morning in that location there was Ratko Mladic – it’s just the same thing as the Americans finding Osama bin Laden.”

Asked by Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller whether the arrest had split the country Mr Dacic said: “Sure there are those who didn’t think we should do this but there are many more who think it’s our obligation that we had to do it.”

He added: “Personally I’m sad he didn’t surrender voluntarily but I’m glad my ministry together with the security forces completed the job and apprehended him.”

Ivica Dacic confirmed that Ratko Mladic was living under his own name with an expired Serbian Republic identity card and earlier reports of him operating under a pseudonym were untrue.