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With EU In Its Sights, Will Serbia Give Up Mladic?

Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in 1995Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in 1995
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Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in 1995
Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in 1995
BELGRADE -- In the autumn of 2004, the bodies of two Serbian soldiers were discovered on the grounds of the Topcider army base in the capital city.

Investigators hastily ruled that Dragan Jakovljevic and Drazen Milovanovic had died in a fight while standing guard, with one of the men shooting the other before turning the gun on himself.

Jakovljevic's father, Jarko, a farmer from the northwestern town of Sabac, has spent five years navigating the tangle of official reports and contradictory private claims on the incident.

He now says a conversation he had with cafeteria workers on the base at the time of the tragedy have convinced him that the young men were both killed by a third party -- possibly to protect the identity of a top-secret guest.

Jakovljevic says that one of the workers told him: "'I was a waiter. There was a party. Ratko Mladic was walking around freely. He went in and out of the guard brigade's headquarters."

The incident took place at a time when Belgrade was coming under intense international pressure to cooperate with The Hague war crimes tribunal.

Mladic, who as head of the Bosnian Serb forces was considered responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, had been indicted by the tribunal for genocide and crimes against humanity. But he had eluded capture for years, despite frequent sightings in Belgrade and elsewhere.

Jakovljevic says the death of his son and Milovanovic came as the army elite were growing increasingly fractious. He suspects their killings may have marked the moment Serbia came closest to acknowledging that Mladic enjoys special protection from the country's special forces.

"I can't even imagine what they went through," Jakovljevic says. "They probably knew a lot about everything that was going on. Perhaps they even saw something."

Satisfying The Hague

Today, with Serbia formally applying to join the European Union, many are questioning whether the Balkan state will finally deliver Mladic to The Hague tribunal more than 14 years after his indictment.

President Boris Tadic (left) submits Serbia's application form to join the European Union.
Serbian President Boris Tadic, speaking at a news conference in Stockholm today, pledged that his country would finally track down the two remaining Hague indictees, including Mladic. "If they are on Serbian soil, they will be captured," he said. "This is our obligation."

Tadic said his government would "continue all our efforts to finish that and to capture the last two indictees -- Mr. Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadjic. When that is going to be -- this is a hypothetical question. But we are doing everything that is possible to capture them tomorrow."

But if there were any remaining doubts that Serbian officials are physically unable to track down Mladic, as they frequently claim, they were largely dispelled last year when Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Serbia, where he had been living freely under an assumed identity.

Today, Serbian officials like war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic suspect Mladic is doing much the same.

"I had my own suspicions that he was hiding in Serbia, based on certain facts that had come to light," Vukcevic says. "But no one can make that claim with certainty."

Experts believe the issue will prove an unavoidable stumbling block as Serbia pursues membership talks. Several EU countries, particularly the Netherlands, have routinely sought to withhold incentives from Belgrade until cooperation on Mladic is seen.

In a recent poll conducted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 64 percent of Serbs said they opposed Mladic's arrest. Some 56 percent said they believe Mladic is not guilty of the crimes listed in The Hague indictment, and 72 percent said they had a negative view of The Hague tribunal.

Secretive Services

But on an official level, there have been signs of a shift. Rasim Ljajic, the president of Serbia's national council for cooperation with The Hague, recently announced he would resign from his post if Mladic were not arrested by the new year.

About two-thirds of Serbs oppose Mladic's arrest.
The pledge appeared to suggest confidence on the part of Ljajic and others that Mladic's whereabouts were known, and that he was vulnerable to capture. But seasoned observers say they doubt that Serbian officials will be able to break through the impenetrable defense that the Serbian secret police have built around Mladic.

Danica Draskovic, the wife of former Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, has spent years investigating the special services, which remain largely unreformed since the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Draskovic's brother, opposition official Veselin Boskovic, was killed in a suspicious road accident in 1999, and her husband -- himself an opposition leader -- survived several assassination attempts. She spent years attempting to tie the incidents to the Milosevic regime, and claims his secret police continue to work in much the same way today as they protect Mladic.

"I am absolutely certain that Rasim Ljajic doesn't know where Ratko Mladic is, or when he might be arrested," Draskovic says.

"You have to believe me, though I know it sounds paranoid, that the secret services are in charge of Serbia. The people in power are being manipulated by them in one way or another."

Under Milosevic, the secret police were responsible for recruiting paramilitary fighters who became notorious for ethnic crimes and political assassinations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Croatia. The Balkans, which remain plagued by rampant corruption, are still controlled by crime networks created under Milosevic, and whose roots stretch even further back, to the Tito regime.

The Department of State Security, as it was known, was renamed the Bureau of Security and Information (BIA) after Milosevic's arrest in 2001. But it remains inscrutable to most Serbs.

Military analyst Ljubodrag Stojadinovic says the secret behind Mladic's 14 years of freedom lies inside this agency.

"I believe that the forces at work here are to be found precisely within these unreformed secret services, whose ideological imperatives and raison d'etre are essentially unchanged since the time of their creation," Stojadinovic says.

"It seems obvious that Ratko Mladic is not being projected by individual accomplices or groups ready to use force to defend him. Rather, he is being kept safe by the withholding of crucial information by precisely those operative centers that should be helping bring him to justice."

Hiding In Plain Sight


Since 2005, 13 people have been brought to trial for allegedly helping Mladic evade justice. But all were either acquaintances or relatives of the fugitive army commander -- none were from the BIA.

War crimes prosecutor Vukcevic says he does not rule out the possibility that certain members of the BIA may be responsible for actively protecting Mladic.

He says an investigation is currently under way involving allegations that members of the secret police had helped to hide him on a Serbian military base in June 2002 -- seven years after The Hague indictment, and 15 days after a warrant for his arrest was issued in Belgrade.

"We will do our best to find out what happened. We will determine who had been hiding him for two weeks or so," Vukcevic says. "Everything that is begun has to be brought to a close. All those found guilty will be charged and brought to trial."

Ratko Mladic dances at a wedding in the video footage broadcast by Bosnia's FTV.
The international community was outraged earlier this year when a Bosnian television station aired what it said was recent video footage of Mladic freely enjoying life with friends and family.

One video showed Mladic walking in the mountains and joking with his wife. Another showed him dancing happily at a local party attended by scores of guests. Experts at the time suggested some of the footage was no more than a year old.

Such incidents have led experts to dismiss speculation that Mladic, in fact, has sought refuge farther afield. A report this year, later discredited, speculated that Mladic was working as a diving instructor in Kenya. But military analyst Stojadinovic says he is certain that Mladic is much closer to home.

"If you recall, just prior to Radovan Karadzic's arrest there appeared to be strong and supposedly reliable indications that he was in fact hiding somewhere else, including Latin America," Stojadinovic says.

"In the end, it turned out that the very same people who had urged him to grow a beard and turned him into Dragan Dabic had also been the ones to turn him in."

In the end, Stojadinovic says, Mladic is likely hiding in plain sight -- and will only be captured when his protectors decide it is in their and Serbia's interest.

"I simply think that it is unavoidable that someone in the structures of power must know where Ratko Mladic is, and that's why Mladic always knows ahead of time when a search is authorized," Stojadinovic says.

"Experience shows that in the 25, 26 searches that have taken place according to my records, on every single occasion, Mladic was nowhere near the place being searched."
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by: Pau from: Barcelona
December 22, 2009 23:14
"You have to believe me, though I know it sounds paranoid, that the secret services are in charge of Serbia. The people in power are being manipulated by them in one way or another."

You're right. It sounds completly paranoid. (At least, he dind't says the aliens were commanding the country.)

Serious media didn't issue "news" like this. (Unless they wanted to discredit a country.)

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
December 23, 2009 09:18
Why did not RFE/RL make any post about the lifting of visa sanctions?

In Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro it was celebrated as they would join the bloc itself. Visa freedom is emotionally the most effective tool of the EU to get neighbouring countries closer. Only the real membership is stronger than lifting visa sanctions.

I think Europe should eliminate visa restrictions against the Eastern Partnership countries as well. Becasue those affected by visa feel it humiliating and exluding. (and it really is.)

For example the Euro2012 football championship will take place in Poland & Ukraine. How will Ukrainians attend matches in Poland?

The EU should abolish visa regim against Ukraine until 2012. and give the freedom of traveling to millions of ordinary Ukrainian citizens.

by: Antifascist
December 23, 2009 15:32
Of course ultranationalist circles acting in the shadows and originating in the secret services and organized crime are the ones who really run Serbia. They had Zoran Djindjic murdered when he was about to hand over Mladic; and of course they are protecting Mladic; one could get the impression that it's because they might need him again for next time. In Japan until 1945 it was the same, and for fear of being murdered the Japanese cabinet refused to surrender - until after two atom bombs had been dropped on Japan and the Soviets invaded Manchuria. Only then were they willing to give up. Likewise, the government of Serbia lives in fear and can't let go of ultranationalist policies like the claim on Bosnia adn teh pledge to "protect their own with no matter what". How they want to enter the EU like that is anybody's guess.

by: Brazilian Man from: São Paulo - SP, Brazil
December 23, 2009 16:54
The problem is that the Serbian Intelligence Agency, as the same way that happens to Pakistan’s ISI and Russia’s FSB, is a “state within a state”.

Many people also fear that the arrest of Mladic would provoke a military coup in Serbia.

In the end, the EU should be stringer in its pledge to not allow Serbia in until it acknowledges its past and deliver Mladic to The hague.

by: Sergey from: Chicago, Illinois, USA
December 24, 2009 10:25
Mladic (like Karadzic and Milosevic) are certainly brutal thugs that appeared because of break up of old Yugoslavia. As I said in other forums, It's really sad that Yugoslavian military did not have its own Pinochet to declare martial law throughout Yugoslavia back in early 1990's and throw the likes of Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovich in jail (or just execute them). Then we wouldn't have this horrible war of 1992-1995.

However, I have a few questions to EU/NATO. Are they going to do anything about reverse ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Gypsies in Kosovo ? Are they going to insist that all Orthodox Churches and Monasteries destroyed by Albanian Muslims be rebuilt ? Are they going to allow the thugs from Kosovo LIberation Army (mafia-like military structure with possible ties to Al-Qaida and Islamic International) to run Kosovo ? Or should we wait when Kosovo becomes another "Palestine" or "Afghanistan" of Europe/Balkans ?

by: sirivanhor98 from: Sydney Australia
December 25, 2009 11:49
I think EU has more to gain if Serbia joined the union. Serbia is not playing well the Russia. A lot is at stake.

by: Zoltan from: Hungary
December 25, 2009 15:18
Why did not RFE/RL make any coverage about Franco Frattini's statement about Italy's initiative to abolish visa regime against Russia in 2010?

http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/93676/italy-may-propose-visa-free-eu-travel-for-russia-in-2010.html

Europe should finally define its relation with Russia. And this visa debate is a good beginning for such.
Europe should also debate about whether we want to accept Turkey or not.

Say yes to Russia and no to Turkey.
It is much more fair to tell the Turks the truth (no thanks) then to pretence them.

by: Jili Starr from: Bloomingdale NJ USA
December 26, 2009 00:28



Irrefutable Proof ICTY Is Corrupt Court/Irrefutable Proof the Hague Court Cannot
Legitimately Prosecute Karadzic Case

http://picasaweb.google.com/lpcyusa/ViewMyHagueInternationalCriminalCourtPrepara

toryDocumentsFromThe2001UnitedNations#
(The Documentary Secret United Nations ICC Meeting Papers Scanned Images)

This legal technicality indicates the Hague must dismiss charges against Dr Karadzic

and others awaiting trials in the Hague jail; like it or not.

Unfortunately for the Signatures Of the Rome Statute United Nations member states
instituting the ICC & ICTY housed at the Hague, insofar as the, Radovan Karadzic, as
with the other Hague cases awaiting trial there, I personally witnessed these United
Nations member states openly speaking about trading judicial appointments and

verdicts for financial funding when I attended the 2001 ICC Preparatory Meetings at

the UN in Manhattan making the iCTY and ICC morally incapable trying Radovan

Karazdic and others.

I witnessed with my own eyes and ears when attending the 2001 Preparatory Meetings

to establish an newly emergent International Criminal Court, the exact caliber of

criminal corruption running so very deeply at the Hague, that it was a perfectly viable

topic of legitimate conversation in those meetings I attended to debate trading verdicts

AND judicial appointments, for monetary funding.

Jilly wrote:*The rep from Spain became distraught and when her country’s proposal

was not taken to well by the chair of the meeting , then Spain argued in a particularly

loud and noticably strongly vocal manner, “Spain (my country) strongly believes if we
contribute most financial support to the Hague’s highest court, that ought to give us and
other countries feeding it financially MORE direct power over its
decisions.”

((((((((((((((((((((((((( ((((((((((((((((((((((((( Instead of censoring the country representative
from Spain for even bringing up this unjust, illegal and unfair judicial idea of bribery for
international judicial verdicts and judicial appointments, all country representatives
present in the meeting that day all treated the Spain proposition as a ”totally legitimate
topic” discussed and debated it between each other for some time. I was quite shocked!
The idea was "let's discuss it." "It's a great topic to discuss."

Some countries agreed with Spain’s propositions while others did not. The point here is,
bribery for judicial verdicts and judicial appointments was treated as a totally legitimate
topic instead of an illegitimate toic which it is in the meeting that I
attended in 2001 that day to establish the ground work for a newly emergent
international criminal court.))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

In particular., since "Spain" was so overtly unafraid in bringing up this topic of trading
financial funding the ICC for influence over its future judicial appointments and verdicts
in front of every other UN member state present that day at the UN, "Spain" must have
already known by previous experience the topic of bribery was "socially acceptable" for
conversation that day. They must have previously spoke about bribing the ICTY and

ICC
before in meetings; this is my take an international sociological honor student.

SPAIN's diplomatic gesture of international justice insofar as, Serbia, in all of this is,
disgusting morally!

SPAIN HAS TAUGHT THE WORLD THE TRUE DEFINITION OF AN
"INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT."

I represented the state interests' of the Former Yugoslavia, in Darko Trifunovic’s
absence in those meetings and I am proud to undertake this effort on Serbia’s behalf.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
December 26, 2009 07:31
You making too much of it.

If Serbia is still controlled by such entities, it is rather only with respect to Russian loyalists and Russian extraction imperial resurectors that once were floating Belgrade - but they still pressure Belgrade to devide Europe between Germans and Russians...

I believe that Mladic mostly protected by national sence of bitterness of being singled-out to devide their land and property again by their neighbors and new Germano-Austria and natural protectivness of relatives, friends and other groups...

Also, Milosovic didn't have a trial!
When he opened his mouth to explain the international pressure by imperial resurectors on Serbia to play the game, they murdered him using "Lemurs" and deliberate luck of medical and sell-space protection for him to be killed.
Not so for the Western criminals - German SS, Gestapo, Abver and other German War Criminals formed CIA and Helena and murdered another 3 millions in USA and 3 millions in Europe after WW2.
There is differend treatment of War Criminals from Balkans that allied with the Germans and NATO...

Superpowers don't pay for their crimes - Russia threat as heroes genocidal killers of Afghanistan, Chechnia, Abkhazia and so on.
One of threasonous murderers of Afghan President is a Senator in Russian Parliament and in open boasting about his "heroic" dead..

If you want Serbian population be less protective of their bad guys:

Give them justice too - let the Serbians return their land and property through UN negotiating with their neigbors and friendly borders and Common Welth for former Ugoslavians and Albanians;

Let it to be brought in open and free and published speach with just trial to Serbians accused in crimes about the powers behind the whole plot to devide Europe and Balkans between Germans and Russians and that Russian and Serbian Special Forces were trained by British and Germans in the West to do exactly what they did - in Afghanistan, Chechnia, Abkhazia, Balkans and so on;

Give international guaranties that another "Milosovic" will not be silenced by murder after arrest.

Than maybe...

Konstantin.

by: Abdul Majid
December 30, 2009 17:57
Of course they will never give up Ratko Mladic. After all they still need him to "complete the job", and it seems more and more people in the West agree with it.
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