The butcher of Srebrenica allegedly said to have been responsible for the massacres of nearly 18,000 Bosnian-Serb Muslims, is at this moment sleeping in a cell at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague following his failure to stop the Serbian government from extraditing him. Gen Ratko Mladic’s 16-year run from justice finally came to an end when he was expeditiously sent to the Netherlands after his lawyers had tried in vain to claim he was in ill-health and hadn’t long to live.
He arrived in The Hague last night to face war crimes charges after a Belgrade court rejected his appeal against extradition. Mladic was driven from his jail cell at Serbia’s war crimes court to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport within hours of his transfer to the ICTY receiving the green light from Serbian Justice Minister, Snezana Malovic. The court and the road to the airport were closed and heavily guarded as a group of vehicles, including jeeps and police vans, sped the former Bosnian Serb army commander to a waiting Serbian government plane during what could be the 69-year-old’s final moments on Serbian soil.
Mladic’s lawyer Milos Saljic had filed an appeal against his extradition yesterday morning, claiming that his client was unfit to face trial and needed urgent medical attention. The plea, widely seen as a delaying tactic, was rejected immediately, allowing Ms Malovic to sign the extradition order. Mladic has been indicted by the ICTY on 15 charges related to the killing of around 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995 and the 1,400-day siege of Sarajevo, during which 10,000 civilians died.