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Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic

Posted by eGZact on October 28, 2007

Country: Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Kill tally: Up to 200,000.

Background: The southern Slavic states of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia begin to merge as a single nation following the First World War. But the legacy of a 400-year occupation by the Islamic Ottoman Empire and traditional tension between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians frustrate attempts for unity. Following the Second World War, Yugoslav communists led by Marshal Josip Broz Tito take control of the government, declaring the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia on 29 November 1945.

The veneer of Yugoslav stability begins to crumble when Tito dies on 4 May 1980. The prosperous northern states of Croatia and Slovenia start to agitate for autonomy. Macedonia and the Muslim majorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Serbian province of Kosovo repeat the call. Serbia has political power under the federation and does not want change. The poorer southern state of Montenegro supports the centralised federation and backs Serbia.

Mini biography: Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic.

Radovan Karadzic: Born on 19 June 1945 in Petnijca, a village near Savnik in the mountains of Montenegro. In 1960 he moves to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, where he studies medicine at the University of Sarajevo, graduating as a physician and psychiatrist. He also publishes poetry and books for children. In 1985 he is sentenced to three years imprisonment for embezzlement and fraud but never serves his time.

Ratko Mladic: Born on 12 March 1943 in the municipality of Kalinovik in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He pursues a military career in the Yugoslav People’s Army, rising to a command post.

1974 – Changes to the Yugoslav constitution loosen the grip of the federal government on the constituent republics, which become de facto sovereign states. Serb minorities living in Bosnia-Herzegovina claim they have been denied national rights, left unprotected and singled out for unfair treatment.

Meanwhile, Karadzic travels to the United States to spend a year in medical training at Columbia University in New York.

1988 – The Yugoslav Cabinet is unable to cope with a worsening economy and the rising push for autonomy from the republics and their provinces. The entire Cabinet resigns in October. In January 1989 the ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) votes to end its political monopoly, allowing multiparty elections across the federation.

1990 – The LCY relinquishes power at the federal level, splitting into separate party organisations in each of the republics.

In Bosnia, Karadzic helps found the Serbian Democratic Party (SDP) and becomes its president. The party is anticommunist, heavily influenced by the Christian Orthodox Church and advocates the introduction of a capitalist market system.

Multiparty elections held in Bosnia-Herzegovina in December return a tripartite coalition made up of the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (PDA – 86 seats), the SDP (72 seats) and the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina (44 seats). PDA leader Alija Izetbegovic heads a joint presidency.

1991 – Mladic is appointed commander of the 9th Corps of the Yugoslav People’s Army in Knin in Croatia.

Slovenia and Croatia unilaterally declare their independence in June. The federal government orders the Serb-dominated army to suppress the secessionists. A 10-day war in Slovenia ends with a Serb defeat. Up to 100 die and hundreds are injured. The war in Croatia lasts seven months, ending in January 1992 with a cease-fire. About 20,000 die and hundreds of thousands are driven from their homes. Macedonia declares its independence in September 1991.

During the war in Croatia, Mladic works in close association with the president of Serb, Slobodan Milosevic. He supplies arms to local Serb rebels and assists with their seizure of land.

Meanwhile, in Bosnia-Herzegovina several Serb enclaves unilaterally declare their autonomy and their allegiance to the Serb-dominated federal government, leading to armed conflict between Serbs and non-Serbs.

Karadzic rejects proposals that Bosnia-Herzegovina follow the other republics and also become independent. He begins boycotting meetings of the presidency then withdraws the SDP from the coalition. At a closed referendum among Bosnian-Serbs held at the start of the following year, most vote to remain part of Yugoslavia.

1992 – A referendum on whether Bosnia-Herzegovina should secede from the federation is held from 29 February to 1 March. The Muslim and Croatian majority carry the vote. The country is proclaimed an independent republic on 3 March and recognised as such by the European Community (EC – now European Union), the US and the United Nations (UN).

The Bosnian-Serb minority, which boycotted the referendum, repels.

On 4 April Bosnian President Izetbegovic announces a full mobilisation to quell the violence mounting around the country. Karadzic opposes the move.

On 4-5 April thousands of Sarajevans of all ethnic backgrounds take to the streets to march for peace. When they descend on the SDP offices in the capital, Bosnian-Serb snipers open fire on the crowd, killing six people.

Bosnian-Serb militias now lay siege to Sarajevo. Their artillery, positioned in the surrounding hills, bomb the city’s streets and marketplaces, while their snipers target the unlucky and unwary.

On 6 April Karadzic proclaims the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, renamed Republika Srpska in May. Karadzic is president. The capital is located at Pale, about 10 km to the southeast of Sarajevo.

Republika Srpska encompasses about half the landmass of Bosnia-Herzegovina, horseshoeing around the remaining territory and bordering both Serbia and Croatia. It is not recognised by the UN.

Mladic takes command of the 80,000 Yugoslav Army troops stationed in the republic, a force which becomes in effect the Bosnian-Serb Army.

With the backing of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the Bosnian-Serb militias and Mladic’s army units begin to occupy territory across Bosnia. After six weeks of fighting they control two-thirds of the country. The conflict soon spills into Croatia.

The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia will last for three years, causing devastation in those countries and deprivation in Serbia, which suffers from trade sanctions applied by the UN.

As the war escalates, the Serb forces attempt to expel the Muslim and Croat population from the Serb-held territories in an orchestrated program of “ethnic cleansing”.

Muslims and Croats are either forced into exile as refugees, held as hostages for use in prisoner exchanges, or placed in concentration camps. Many are summarily executed. An estimated 20,000 Muslim women and girls are thrown into rape camps. Bosnian-Muslim and Bosnian-Croat political leaders are arrested, imprisoned and in many cases murdered. In the opening months of the war up to 100,000 or more people are killed and up to three million are dispossessed.

Hostilities are further complicated in July when a group of Bosnian-Croats form a breakaway Croat state inside Bosnia, the Republic of Herceg-Bosna. Croatian-Serbs from the self-declared Republic of Serbian Krajina in neighbouring Croatia also enter the fray, forming an alliance with the Bosnian-Serbs.

1993 – At the start of the year Croatian forces attempt to seize territory in Bosnia. They are resisted by the Bosnian-Muslims.

In June the UN Security Council passes a resolution to create six “safe areas” for Bosnian-Muslims – Bihac, Tuzla, Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde and Sarajevo. UN peacekeeping soldiers are deployed to defend the areas.

1994 – In March Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia reach an agreement to form a joint federation and end their hostilities. The Croatian and Bosnian-Muslim forces join in opposition to the Serbs, launching an offensive in April and May.

In December the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces a cease-fire in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the withdrawal of Serbian artillery. The cease-fire holds until March 1995.

Meanwhile, on 24 March 1994, Mladic’s daughter Ana is found dead. She has died from a single gunshot wound to the head fired from her father’s favourite pistol. Reports indicate she has committed suicide.

1995 – The Serb militias are brought to a standstill in Bosnia. To the west, they are overwhelmed by the Croatian Army and driven, along with almost the entire Serbian-Croat population, out of Croatia.

In May NATO launches air strikes against Serb targets after the Serb forces refuse to comply with a UN ultimatum to remove all heavy weapons from a 12-mile exclusion zone around Sarajevo. Joint Croatian-Bosnian operations and further air strikes in May, August and September eject Serbian forces from large areas of western Bosnia.

In the east, Bosnian-Serb militias led by Mladic and aided by Yugoslav Army troops take the UN “safe areas” of Srebrenica and Zepa. At Srebrenica over 40,000 Bosnian-Muslims who had sought safety there are expelled. Between 5,000 and 8,000 are executed, allegedly on Mladic’s order.

Now on the defensive, tensions between the Bosnian-Serb Army and the government of the Republika Srpska come to the surface. When army generals, led by Mladic, begin to ignore orders from the government, Karadzic attempts to have them reassigned from the battlefronts. The generals refuse to comply.

The siege of Sarajevo ends in mid-September when the Bosnian-Serbs agree to withdraw their heavy weapons. Approximately 10,000 people have been killed in Sarajevo during the siege, including about 1,500 children.

On 21 November Milosevic, Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman ratify the Dayton accord for peace in Bosnia. Karadzic is forced to accept the accord when Milosevic closes the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina and turns his back on the Bosnian-Serbs.

Under the accord, Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian-Serb mini-state (the Republika Srpska) under a unified presidency but with separate governments. The trade sanctions against Serbia are lifted.

The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has cost up to 200,000 or more lives. As many as three million have been driven from their homes and tens of thousands are missing.

On 24 July Karadzic and Mladic are indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague on 16 counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes against civilians and places of worship, the siege of Sarajevo, and the taking of UN peacekeepers as hostages and human shields.

The indictment accuses them of being “criminally responsible for the unlawful confinement, murder, rape, sexual assault, torture, beating, robbery and inhumane treatment of civilians.”

Copy of the indictment against Karadzic and Mladic.

They are charged separately on 14 November for the genocide at Srebrenica, which is described in the indictment as “truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”

As the leader of the Bosnian-Serbs, Karadzic is also held responsible for the “ethnic cleansing” of tens of thousands of Muslims from Serb-held areas of Bosnia. As an indicted war criminal, he is banned from standing for parliament. He is also pressured to relinquish his existing government and party positions.

1996 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia issues international arrest warrants for Karadzic and Mladic on 11 July. Mladic is dismissed as commander of the Bosnian-Serb Army. Karadzic steps down as president of the Republika Srpska and as head of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 19 July. He makes his last public appearance at the christening of his son at an Orthodox Monastery in Montenegro.

1997 – The SDP loses government in Republika Srpska at elections held in December, depriving Karadzic of a power base. Karadzic goes into hiding, reputedly in southeastern border-country of the Republika Srpska. He is believed to be surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards and protected by the police.

Other rumours have him living humbly, heavily disguised as an Orthodox priest, moving between the monasteries of Montenegro under the protection of the Orthodox Church and occasionally visiting his family in Pale. According to ‘The Observer’ newspaper, it has been estimated that Karadzic spends 80% of his time in church property.

It is also said that Karadzic only moves around at night and employs look-alikes to further confuse his pursers. The cost of his protection is estimated to be about US$200,000 per month, most of which is sourced from the criminal activities of his supporters, including extortion, embezzlement and other business fraud.

2000 – The SDP returns to power in Republika Srpska and becomes the largest single party in the Bosnian Parliament.

2002 – Mladic, who has continued to live openly in and around the Serbian capital of Belgrade, goes underground in Bosnia-Herzegovina when the Serbian Government agrees to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal. It is later reported that he is back in Belgrade, living under the protection of the Yugoslav military. He is funded in part by a US$520 a month pension paid to his family by the army.

Both Karadzic and Mladic have a price on their head, with the US Government offering a $5 million reward for information leading to their arrest or conviction.

According to Carla Del Ponte, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor in the trial against Slobodan Milosevic, the authorities in Belgrade are reluctant to arrest Mladic for fear of an armed conflict between the army and the police.

The NATO-led Stabilisation Force in Bosnia (SFOR) tries unsuccessfully to apprehend Karadzic in February, and again in March, raiding the small town of Celebici in the Republika Srpska, near the border with Montenegro. The area is considered to be Karadzic’s “base of operation”.

In July NATO troops raid Karadzic’s abandoned house in Pale. They claim that they find evidence linking Karadzic to Bosnia’s criminal underworld.

Meanwhile, a book of children’s poetry written by Karadzic, titled ‘There are miracles, there are no miracles’, is launched in Belgrade on 9 July. It is reported that the book is the first in a trilogy. According to Karadzic’s publisher, two more books were to be released and a compilation of Karadzic’s political commentaries was being prepared. A close aid to Karadzic describes him as “well and busy.”

On 14 August SFOR returns to Celebici in the Republika Srpska to step up the hunt for Karadzic. Again they have no success.

2003 – The international community attempts to tighten the noose on Karadzic by freezing the assets of his family and selected supporters. The European Union also bans his wife (Ljiljana), son (Aleksandar), and several others from entering its territory.

Bosnian-Serb police enter the hunt for Karadzic in September. The police raid the home of an Orthodox bishop near the border with Serbia but fail to find the fugitive.

Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro move towards reconciliation on 10 September when the presidents of both countries apologise to one another for “all the evils” done by their countries in wars. The following month, during a visit to Sarajevo, the president of Serbia-Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, apologises for the abuses committed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“I want to use this opportunity to apologise for any evil or disaster that anyone from Serbia and Montenegro caused to anyone in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Marovic says. “There were injustices, evil and killings, but we both need to be brave to say that we are ready to forgive and to go forward.”

However, the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina do not reciprocate.

On 7 October Bosnian-Serb President Dragan Cavic urges all war crimes suspects from the 1992-1995 conflict who are still at large to surrender, saying they “are an obstacle to the full integration of Bosnia-Herzegovina into Euro-Atlantic institutions.”

“Among others, we regard such persons to be Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic,” Cavic says.

2004 – The hunt for Karadzic resumes on 11 January when, acting on a tip that he may be badly injured and seeking help, SFOR begins a four-day search of Pale and its environs. However, the operation, the biggest in 18 months, fails to apprehend the fugitive or find any evidence of his whereabouts, although it is later claimed that SFOR had missed capturing Karadzic by just two hours.

Karadzic loyalists boast that both he and Mladic are well guarded. “That is why this action will not succeed and Dr Karadzic will continue to be in safety, in the myth and legend of the Serb people,” states Kosta Cavoski, head of the International Committee for Truth on Radovan Karadzic.

At the end of January posters of Karadzic begin to appear in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of Republika Srpska. Below a colour photograph of Karadzic the posters bear the words “I’m always with you,” and “I’m watching you.”

On 11 February UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte claims that Karadzic is now living in Belgrade, saying her information came from a “credible source.” Serbia responds by challenging Del Ponte to provide information or any other kind of help that would lead to the capture of Karadzic.

Operations to capture Karadzic are staged on 13 March, 31 March and 14 April. None find any trace of the fugitive.

Meanwhile, on 19 April, the Criminal Tribunal at The Hague confirms that the massacre at Srebrenica was an act of genocide. “The appeals chamber calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide,” says the tribunal’s president, Judge Theodor Meron.

“Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act.”

On 11 June the Srebrenica Commission releases a report that establishes the “participation of (Bosnian-Serb) military and police units, including special units” in the massacre. The 42-page preliminary report also implicates Serbia in the massacre, noting that Serbian police units were ordered to participate.

Composed of Bosnian-Serb judges and lawyers, a victims’ representative, and an international expert, the seven-member Srebrenica Commission was formed in 2003 by Bosnia’s international administrator, Lord Ashdown, to investigate who was involved in the massacre and where victims’ bodies are buried.

On 30 June Lord Ashdown fires 59 Serbs from government positions in the Republika Srpska in retaliation for their failure to arrest Karadzic. “The Republika Srpska has been in a grip of a small band of corrupt politicians and criminals for far too long,” Ashdown says.

In July new information about Mladic comes to the surface, with a Belgrade newspaper reporting that he has told the Serbian Government through a mediator that he has no intention of surrendering to The Hague.

Karadzic, meanwhile, completes a book, ‘Miraculous Chronicles of the Night’, in August and submits it to a publisher “through secret channels.” The book, a semi-autobiographical story about a prisoner held in a Sarajevo prison on the eve of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, sells out at an international book fair held in Belgrade in October.

On 10 November, following its receipt and review of the final report of the Srebrenica Commission, the government of Republika Srpska issues an apology for the 1995 massacre.

“The report makes it clear that enormous crimes were committed in the area of Srebrenica in July 1995,” the government says. “The Bosnian-Serb Government shares the pain of the families of the Srebrenica victims, is truly sorry and apologises for the tragedy.” The government was determined to “face the truth about the recent conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina” and “take decisive steps to force all persons who committed war crimes to face justice.”

On 14 November the Norwegian News Agency publishes a report stating that research done by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has concluded that about 103,000 people were killed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

According to the report, the researchers found that 55,261 civilians and 47,360 soldiers died as a direct result of the conflict. Of the civilians, about 38,000 were Muslims and Croats and about 16,700 were Serbs. Of the soldiers, about 28,000 were from the mostly Muslim Bosnian Government Army, about 14,000 were from the Bosnian-Serb forces, and about 6,000 were Bosnian-Croat troops.

The estimates exclude those who died from indirect causes such as starvation, cold and lack of medical care.

Preliminary figures from a survey being conducted by the Sarajevo Research and Documentation Centre suggest that the final death tally from the war could be higher, with project leader Mirsand Tokaca predicting that number will be between 130,000 and 150,000. However, this estimate also excludes those who died from indirect causes.

2005 – In January Karadzic’s former deputy, Biljana Plavsic, publishes a book titled ‘I Testify’ in which she describes Karadzic’s tolerance of wartime profiteering.

“Karadzic admired wartime mobsters who made their fortune overnight by smuggling humanitarian aid and arms,” she writes. “Once I asked him openly if people in the leadership were involved in profiteering, and he said ‘Well, one has to make a living somehow.'”

Plavsic, who went on to become president of the Republika Srpska before being jailed for 11 years by The Hague Tribunal in 2003 for crimes against humanity, writes that Karadzic got richer during the war, enjoying luxury apartments, a selection of cars and a helicopter. “There was always money for Karadzic’s pockets … sometimes I wondered if he was at all aware of what was going on, that people were dying.”

On 7 March Carla Del Ponte says that authorities in Serbia know exactly where Mladic is and could organise his arrest and transfer in hours if they had the political will.

According to Del Ponte, Mladic is sheltering in Serbia under the protection of a group of former military loyalists. She is uncertain whether Karadzic is in Bosnia, Serbia or Montenegro, but is certain he is still in the region.

“I am asking Belgrade please go and arrest these accused who are not willing to voluntarily surrender,” she says.

Karadzic has, according to his brother, “made a strategic decision to never surrender to The Hague Tribunal.”

“If he surrendered he would betray his people and God, which has protected him from the enemies for so long,” Karadzic’s brother says.

On 9 June the Bosnian daily newspaper ‘Oslobodjenje’ reports that the Bosnian-Serb Government has admitted that police from Serbia took part in the massacre at Srebrenica.

According to the paper, the admission is contained in the latest report by the Srebrenica Commission. “The Bosnian-Serb Interior Ministry in cooperation with the panel has confirmed the involvement in the Srebrenica massacre of joint forces of the Serbian Interior Ministry,” the paper quotes the report as saying.

In October the Special Bosnian-Serb Government Working Group concludes that over 17,000 Bosnian-Serb soldiers, police and civilians took part in the events at Srebrenica, either directly or by assisting with planning, transport and communications.

Meanwhile, the newspaper ‘Danas’ reports that Mladic is hiding in a large town in central Serbia and that the Serbian Government knows where he is. The government denies the claim. The radio station B-92 reports that talks are taking place in Belgrade on conditions for Mladic’s surrender. On 13 June ‘The Washington Post’ also reports that Mladic has been negotiating with the Serbian Government over his possible surrender.

The Serbian Government again denies the claim, with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica stating on 16 June that “the Serbian authorities are not in touch with him (Mladic) and we are not negotiating with him.”

On 2 July the BBC reports that it has been told by “international security agencies” that Karadzic is hiding in Montenegro and is therefore beyond the reach of the peacekeepers and police in Bosnia. According to the report, Karadzic is living in a remote part of northwest Montenegro, not far from the town of Niksic, where he grew up.

On 28 July Karadzic’s wife, Ljiljana, makes a public appeal to her husband to surrender to The Hague Tribunal.

“Our family is under constant pressure from all over. Our life and our existence is jeopardised,” she says.

“In hope that you are alive and that you can make decisions by yourself, I’m begging you to make this decision. … I’m now doing the only thing I can; I’m begging you.

“Between loyalty to you and to the children and grandchildren, I had to choose and I have chosen. … It will be your sacrifice for us, for the sake of your family,”

At the same time, Serbia President Boris Tadic calls on Mladic to surrender, saying that the fugitive “remains the prime obstacle for Serbia” in negotiations over admission to European Union.

On 18 October a new book of poetry by Karadzic is published. Titled ‘Under the Left Breast of the Century’, the book contains 47 poems covering mostly outdoor themes.

In November the international community increases the pressure on Serbia to deliver Mladic to The Hague Tribunal. Following a meeting with the president of the tribunal president, Serbian Defence Minister Zoran Stankovic says he has been told that unless Mladic is in The Hague by the end of the year “we will be excommunicated from Euro-Atlantic integration.”

At the end of the year neither Karadzic nor Mladic have been taken into custody.

2006 – On 18 January the Belgrade newspaper ‘Glas Javnosti’ reports that Mladic has been living in Russia since May 2005.

UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte rejects the report, saying “Mladic is in Serbia. Mladic is protected by the power of the army.”

On 1 February Serbia’s Supreme Defence Council admits that the Serbian military “had undeniably on occasion sheltered” Mladic until 2002 at “army compounds.” Since 1 June 2002, Mladic has been assisted by retired officers from the Serbian and Bosnian-Serb military as well as some civilians, the council says, adding that his current whereabouts were unknown.

According to a report presented to the council, the Serbian military had conducted 27 searches for Mladic at army premises across the country since March 2003.

On 27 February the European Union tells Serbia that if Mladic is not handed over to The Hague Tribunal within a month negotiations over Serbia’s admission to the union may be “disrupted”. (The deadline is later extended to 30 April.)

At the same time, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also know as the World Court, begins hearings in a case of genocide that was brought against Yugoslavia by Bosnia-Herzegovina in March 1993.

The ICJ was set up after the Second World War to deal with disputes between states. The court has the authority to order Serbia-Montenegro (the successor state to Yugoslavia) to pay damages if it is found responsible for acts of genocide that occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1992-95 conflict.

It is the first time a state has been brought to court to face a charge of genocide.

The 30 April deadline for the arrest and hand over of Mladic to The Hague Tribunal passes without the fugitive having been apprehended. In response the European Union calls off membership talks with Serbia. EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn says Serbia was not yet a suitable candidate for membership because its “security services and military intelligence have not been fully under the civilian democratic control of the Serbian Government.”

Carla Del Ponte accuses Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of misleading her and Serb Deputy Prime Minister Mirolijub Labus resigns. Labus, who is also the head of the Serb negotiating team for EU membership, says he can no longer support his government’s policies. Citing the ongoing failure to arrest Mladic, Labus says Serbia’s security forces “did not do their job properly. … They searched for Mladic everywhere except where he was hiding.”

Meanwhile, on 21 May, Montenegro votes to split from the federation with Serbia. Montenegro formally declares its independence on 3 June. The disintegration of Yugoslavia is now complete.

On 1 July Serb Defence Minister Zoran Stankovic confirms that US and British intelligence agents have joined the hut for Mladic.

At the end of the year both Karadzic and Mladic remain at large.

2007 – On 26 February the ICJ hands down its ruling in the genocide case brought against Yugoslavia by Bosnia-Herzegovina. The court finds that while Serbia, the sole remaining successor of Yugoslavia, had not committed, incited or been complicit in genocide, it had failed to prevent what happened at Srebrenica despite its awareness of “a serious risk” of mass murder and its “known influence” over the Bosnian-Serb militia.

The court finds that “financial compensation is not the appropriate form of reparation.” It calls instead for the arrest and delivery of Ratko Mladic to The Hague and a formal declaration from Serbia that it failed to prevent an act of genocide at Srebrenica.

Two days later the government of the Republika Srpska apologises to the victims of the war. “The government of the Republika Srpska expresses its deepest regret for the crimes committed against non-Serbs and condemns all persons who took part in the crimes,” a statement from the government says.

At the start of June the EU drops its demand that Mladic be handed to The Hague before negotiations on Serbia’s admission to the union proceed. The talks resume on 13 June.

Carla Del Ponte maintains that Mladic is in Serbia. However, she does not know where Karadzic is. “Since months we have received no information,” she says on 3 July. “Last year we received some information that he was in a monastry in Montenegro. … We will get him because we are not forgetting him.”

At the end of the same week Serb President Boris Tadic says that it his government’s “goal” to apprehend Mladic by the end of the year.

Comment: No one emerged a victor of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. No one emerged a hero. Just about everyone was a victim, including the Bosnian-Serbs: lied to and manipulated by their leaders, and by Milosevic in Belgrade. And the victim’s mentality remains, with the Bosnian-Serb leadership steadfastly denying complicity and responsibility, just as Karadzic and Mladic elude arrest and maintain their innocence.

Though of course it isn’t quite that black and white. The atrocities committed were the worst seen in Europe since the Second World War, but not the worst ever seen in Yugoslavia. That happened 50 years earlier, during the regime of Croat fascist Ante Pavelic and his murderous Ustase storm troopers. The tally then was 300,000 to one million, including up to 30,000 Jews, up to 29,000 Gipsies, and between 300,000 and 600,000 Serbs.

That atrocity has contributed in no small part to the paranoia that informs much of the national psyche of the Bosnian-Serbs. And you can understand them, to a degree. In parts of Croatia, Pavelic is still considered to be a national hero.

 

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