The Hunt for Mladic and Karadzic

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. AP quotes the commander of EU peacekeepers in Bosnia saying “the net is closing in” on the two men responsible for the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

Nice, except that’s followed up by the dumbest quote I’ve seen this morning (it’s early yet): “It’s a bit like getting Osama bin Laden,” he said.

No, it’s not.

Patrick Moore, a veteran observer of Balkan affairs at Radio Free Europe, wrote a piece last month that explains why Serbian officials are only now, ten years after Srebrenica, going after the two most wanted men in Europe.

On June 24, The New York Times quoted Serbian government officials acknowledging for the first time they were in contact with the secret network protecting General Ratko Mladic about his surrender.

This is indeed good news and will send a signal to aspiring war criminals everywhere. But a few things need to be said, not the least of which is that Mladic and his accomplice, Radovan Karadzic (said to be hiding in Montenegro), could have been found and arrested at nearly any time since the fall of Milosevic had the Serbian government really wanted to.

The footage of the massacre that was shown at the Milosevic trial and subsquently on Serbian TV was a huge impetus for the arrest of several of the “Scorpions” shown on the video and the subsequent announcement about what seems to be a narrowing hunt for Mladic. Top Serbian officials have, for the first time, expressed remorse for that monstrous crimes that were committed with the collusion of (and sometimes by) the Serbian state in the name of the Serbian nation.

Yet the Serbian government did nothing in late May when they were first given a copy of the video in late May by human rights activist Natasa Kandic. They sat on it. Only after Belgrade TV stations (led by the independent broadcaster B-92, brave as ever) showed the footage did they jump into action. Meanwhile, Serbian Parliament failed to approve a statement explicitly condemning, no strings attached, Srebrenica. Draw your own conclusions.

I’ve not seen the tape, but a good friend happened to be in the Hague courtroom the day it was shown at the Milosevic trial, and confirms that it is indeed a horrifying spectacle. Most Serbs still haven’t come to grips with Serbia’s role in Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Airing footage like this will help speed the process, but the nation is still in thrall with its supposed role as a historical victim.

6 thoughts on “The Hunt for Mladic and Karadzic

  1. I don’t think it’s correct to say that the Serbian authorities “sat” on the tape until it was shown on TV. Remember, they arrested a bunch of these guys the following day, suggesting that they knew exactly where they were because they had been following their movements. What is more likely to have happened is that the government waited until the shwoing of the tape and the ensuing shock allowed them to arrest the Scorpions, and possibly prepare for the arrest of Mladic. I’d also like to add that Mladic and Karadzic could have been arrested numerous times by NATO troops, which initially numbered 60,000 in this small country. They didn’t do a thing and must be held responsible too. The EU quote is just one in a long line of increasingly erratic and bizarre justifications why NATO and the EU have been sitting on their hands all these years.

  2. The EU quote is just one in a long line of increasingly erratic and bizarre justifications why NATO and the EU have been sitting on their hands all these years.

    Do you need any explanation for not pissing off a significant part of the population of a country you have troops in?

  3. I think pissing off the Serbs is a prize well worth paying for justice. I remember the sort of thing that was said about extraditing Milosevic — well, in the end it happened and it went just well.

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