Serb officials accused of sheltering Mladic

 

A SENIOR US diplomat has called for a crackdown on the Bosnian “support network” of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic and accused security service agents in the country’s Serb-run region of helping him evade capture.

Raffi Gregorian said Gen Mladic, who is accused of genocide for his role in the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995, was being assisted by members of his family who live in Bosnia and former bodyguards, “who are now employed in various security agencies of the Republika Srpska”.

Gen Mladic is believed to be hiding somewhere in Serbia, where he is also thought to receive protection from loyal allies who are current or former members of the security services.

“I am convinced that a measures aimed at the support network in Bosnia-Hercegovina would block their aid (to Mladic) in Serbia,” Mr Gregorian told Bosnian newspaper Oslobodjenje.

“If we did that . . . we would help the pro-democratic forces in Serbia, the forces that support the rule of law, to arrest Ratko Mladic.”

While Serbia’s pro-western government has condemned Gen Mladic and insists it is doing everything it can to find him, officials in Republika Srpska are more ambivalent towards him and his political chief during Bosnia’s 1992-5 war, Radovan Karadzic, who is on trial at the United Nations war crimes court in The Hague.

Dr Karadzic’s former party held a ceremony honouring him and ally Momcilo Krajisnik – who was jailed for 20 years by the UN war crimes court – on the eve of last month’s 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

Bosnia’s top envoys, led by international high representative Valentin Inzko, issued a statement in response in which they “strongly condemned recent actions and statements by senior politicians in Republika Srpska officially glorifying Serb convicted war criminals and denying the fact that genocide took place in Srebrenica in July 1995.”

“Genocide denial and honouring of war criminals are unacceptable in a democratic society based on the rule of law,” the officials said.

Mr Gregorian called for the crackdown on Gen Mladic’s allies in Bosnia as he prepared to leave the country after serving in several senior positions, including deputy to the high representative.

He was extremely unpopular among Bosnian Serb leaders for alleging that they were corrupt and incompetent, and for criticising their refusal to support plans that would break down ethnic barriers in Bosnia.