Serbia extradites Ratko Mladic

Former Bosnian Serb commander arrives in The Hague where he will face trial on charges of genocide and war crimes.

    Armed police guarded a convoy as part of the Serbian authorities' extradition operation [Reuters]

    Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander, has been extradited from Serbia to stand trial on charges of war crimes and genocide in The Hague.

    The 69-year-old former military commander on Tuesday arrived at the detention unit of the UN-backed court where he will stand trial.

    "Mladic, who was arrested by Serbian authorities on Thursday May 26, 2011, has been admitted to the UN Detention Unit in The Hague," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced in a statement.

    He joins Radovan Karadzic, his former Bosnian Serb political chief, who is currently on trial.

    Earlier, Snezana Malovic, Serbia's justice minister, said Mladic's extradition marked the fulfilment of Belgrade's "international and moral obligation".

    "Mladic is charged with the most serious crimes against humanity and the most serious violations of the international humanitarian law,'' she said in a news conference to announce Mladic's extradition.

    The announcement came shortly after a convoy of jeeps and police vehicles was seen leaving Serbia's war crimes court, where Mladic had been held since his arrest on Thursday.

    'Political pressure'

    Mladic has been charged over alleged atrocities committed by his Serb troops during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

    Those include the Srebrenica massacre in which about 8,000 Muslim men and boys were rounded up and killed, and the 44-month long siege of Sarajevo, which left an estimated 10,000 people dead.

    Mladic's lawyers had appealed against his extradition, arguing that he was too ill to travel to The Hague, but Serbia's war crimes court rejected the appeal earlier on Tuesday.

    Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from Belgrade, said that only after Mladic is examined by doctors in The Hague will the status of his health really be clear.

    "Here in Belgrade there are wildly divergent views on Mladic's health," he reported.

    "The prosecution and the [Serbian] court appointed doctors have proclaimed him of sound health ... but his defence are saying the doctors here have been under undue political pressure to certify him healthy.

    "He's certainly not a well man - even the prosecutor confirmed that to me, though he said he [Mladic] was 'fit enough' to stand trial."

    Pro-Mladic protests

    Mladic was arrested on Thursday in a farmhouse in northern Serbia belonging to a cousin. His capture prompted at times violent protests by Serb nationalists in Serbia and Bosnia.

    Away from Belgrade on Tuesday, in Banja Luka, the capital of the Bosnia Serb entity of Republika Srpska, thousands of Bosnian Serbs rallied to show support for the former army commander.

    "General Ratko Mladic is our brave son who led Republika Srpska's army and us soldiers to defend it," Branislav Predojevic, who heads an association of Bosnian Serb veterans, told journalists at the start of the protest.

    "General Ratko Mladic is not a war criminal."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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