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Ratko Mladić ( , ), born March 12, 1942, was the Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Army) during the Bosnian War of 1992-1995 and is now a fugitive.

Mladić was recognized as the top military general by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslaviamarker in The Haguemarker in connection with the 1992-1995 Siege of Sarajevomarker and the Srebrenica massacre.

There has been an outstanding international arrest warrant against Mladić following the Rule 61 of ICTYmarker which concluded that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he has committed the crimes in question, including genocide. The United Statesmarker government had offered a $5 million reward for his arrest. On October 11, 2007, the Serbian government had announced that 1 million would be rewarded for information which would lead to Mladić's capture and arrest.

Early life

Mladić was born in the Bosnianmarker village of Božanovići located near the Jahorinamarker mountain, southeast of Sarajevomarker, in the municipality of Kalinovikmarker west of Goraždemarker ( ) .The place was at the time a part of the short-lived Independent State of Croatiamarker, or NDH, a puppet-state created after Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy invaded and dismembered the Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker in 1941.Mladic's father, a military leader of the Bosnian Serbs, was killed in 1945 while leading a partisan attack on the home village of Ante Pavelic.

Early military career

Mladić entered the Military Industry School in Zemunmarker in 1961, then went on to the KOV Military Academy, and then Officers Academy, graduating at the top of his class with a grade of 9.57. Upon his graduation in 1965, his first post as an officer was in Skopjemarker, where he was the youngest soldier in the unit which he commanded. Beginning as a second lieutenant, he proved himself to be a capable officer, first commanding a platoon, then a battalion, and then a brigade. In 1989 was promoted to head of the Education Department of the Third Military District of Skopje.

Role in the Yugoslav wars

In June 1991, Mladić was promoted to Deputy Commander of the Pristina Corps in the tense Kosovomarker. That year, Mladić was given command of the 9th Corps of the Yugoslav People's Army, and led this formation against Croatian forces in Kninmarker. On October 4, 1991, he was promoted to Major General. The JNA forces under his command participated in the Croatian War, notably during Operation Coastline 91 in an attempt to sever Dalmatia from the rest of Croatia, which failed even though the JNA forces were more heavily armed and outnumbered the Croatian forces. Among other things, Mladić helped Milan Martić's paramilitary take the village of Kijevomarker.

On April 24, 1992, Mladić was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel General. On May 2, 1992, one month after the Bosnian Republic's declaration of independence, Mladić and his generals blockaded the city of Sarajevomarker, shutting off all traffic in and out of the city, as well as water and electricity. This began the four-year Siege of Sarajevomarker, the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. The city was bombarded with shells and random shooting from the guns of snipers. On May 9, 1992, he assumed the post of Chief of Staff/Deputy Commander of the Second Military District Headquarters of the JNA in Sarajevomarker. The next day, Mladić assumed the command of the Second Military District Headquarters of the JNA.

On May 12, 1992, in response to Bosnia's secession from Yugoslavia, the separatist Bosnian Serb Parliament voted to create the VRS, or Army of Republika Srpska. At the same time, Mladić was appointed Commander of the Main Staff of the VRS, a position he held until December 1996. (In May 1992, after the withdrawal of JNA forces from Bosniamarker, the JNA Second Military District became the nucleus of the Main Staff of the VRS.) On June 24, 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel General over the approximately 80,000 troops stationed in the area.

In July 1995, troops commanded by Mladić, harried by NATO air strikes intended to force compliance with a UN ultimatum to remove heavy weapons from the Sarajevomarker area, overran and occupied the UN safe areas of Srebrenicamarker and Žepamarker. At Srebrenica over 40,000 Bosniaks who had sought safety there were expelled. An estimated 8,300 were murdered, allegedly on Mladić's order.

On August 4, 1995, with a massive Croatian military force poised to attack the Serb-held Krajina region in central Croatia, Karadžić announced he was removing Mladić from his commandant post and assuming personal command of the VRS himself. Karadžić blamed Mladić for the loss of two key Serb towns in western Bosnia that had recently fallen to the Croats, and he used the loss of the towns as the excuse to announce his surprise command structure changes. Mladić was demoted to an "adviser". He refused to go quietly, claiming the support of both the Bosnian Serb military as well as the people. Karadžić countered by attempting to pull political rank as well as denouncing Mladić as a "madman," but Mladić's obvious popular support forced Karadžić to rescind his order on August 11.

On November 8, 1996, the President of the Bosnian Serb Republic, Biljana Plavšić, dismissed Mladić from his post. He continued to receive a pension until November 2005.

Indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

On July 24, 1995, Mladić was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslaviamarker and accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes (including crimes relating to the alleged sniping campaign against civilians in Sarajevomarker). On November 16, 1995, the charges were expanded to include charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for the attack on the United Nations-declared safe area of Srebrenicamarker in July 1995. Mladić is also responsible for the taking of hostages amongst UN peace-keeping personnel.

A fugitive from the ICTYmarker, he is suspected to be hiding either in Serbiamarker or in Bosniamarker’s Republika Srpska. Mladić was reportedly seen attending a football match between Chinamarker and Yugoslavia in Belgrademarker in March 2000. He entered through a VIP entrance and sat in a private box surrounded by eight armed bodyguards. Some claim that he has been seen in a suburb of Moscowmarker, and that he is "regularly" in Thessalonicamarker and Athensmarker, which has raised suspicions that numerous fake reports are sent to cover his trail. Some reports say he took refuge in his wartime bunker in Han Pijesak, not far from Sarajevo, or in Montenegro. In early February 2006, portions of a Serbian military intelligence report were leaked to the Serbian Newspaper Politika which stated that Mladić had been hidden in Army of Republika Srpska and Yugoslav People's Army facilities up until June 1, 2002, when the National Assembly of Serbia passed a law mandating cooperation with the ICTYmarker in The Haguemarker. The then-Chief General of the Yugoslav Army Nebojša Pavković requested that Mladić vacate the facility where he was staying on the mountain Povlen, near Valjevomarker, after which the Serb military agencies claim to have lost all trace of the fugitive.

In November 2004, Britishmarker defense officials conceded that military action was unlikely to be successful in bringing Mladić and other suspects to trial. Putting political pressure on Balkan governments would be more likely to succeed.

It was revealed in December 2004 that the RS Army had until summer 2004 been harboring and protecting Ratko Mladic, despite repeated and public pleas to collaborate with the ICTY and apprehend war criminals.

In June 2005 The Times newspaper alleged that Mladić had demanded $5 m (£2.75 m) "compensation" to be given to his family and bodyguards if he gave himself up to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslaviamarker in the Hague.

On February 21, 2006, Mladić was supposedly arrested in the Serbian capital Belgrademarker and was being transferred via the northeast Bosnian city of Tuzlamarker to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The arrest was denied by the Serbian government. The government did not deny rumors of a planned negotiated surrender between Mladić and Serbian Special Forces. Romanian government and Serbian sources claimed on February 22, 2006 that Mladić was arrested in Romaniamarker, near Drobeta-Turnu Severinmarker, close to the Serbian border by a joint Romanian-British special operation carried out by troops of those respective countries.

On February 22, 2006, Chief U.N. Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte denied the rumors that Mladić had been arrested, claiming the rumors had "absolutely no basis whatsoever". She urged the Serbian government to find him without further delay, saying that Mladić was in reach of the Serbian authorities and had been in Serbia since 1998. She said failure to capture him would harm Serbia's bid to join the European Union. The May 1, 2006 deadline established by Carla Del Ponte for Serbia to hand over Mladić passed, resulting in suspended talks between Serbia and the EU.

Conjecture of Possible death

In June 2006 there were reports that Mladić recently suffered a third stroke and that he had low chances of survival. At the same time PR of Democratic Party of Serbia, Andrija Mladenović, raised the question of who would be responsible for the halt in EU negotiations if Mladić were to die. Some sources said that Mladić's appearance has changed as a result of age and poor health.

Opinion polls

According to the latest poll of the NGO Strategic Marketing for the TV Station B92, 14.29% of Serbia's citizens would reveal information that would lead to his arrest in exchange for 1 million, 20.57% do not have a determined attitude, and 65.14% would not exclude information for one million Euros (the poll was conducted when the United States embassy issued a reward of 1.3 million Euros for any information on Ratko Mladic). However, it has been noted that the formulation of the question may have been a problem, as the polling samples which opted "No" included also those who would immediately report Ratko Mladic. Although preceding reports indicated that 47% supported the extradition, it is now apparent that most of the population is against it.

Videos of Mladić

On June 11 2009, a Bosnian TV station aired videos of Ratko Mladic, filmed over the past 10 years. The last video that was featured in the show "60 Minuta" showed Mladić with two women, allegedly filmed in the winter of 2008. However, no evidence for this was given by TV presenters. Serbia has stated that it was "impossible" for the videos to have been filmed in 2008. Rasim Ljajic, Serbia's minister in charge of co-operation with the UN tribunal, confirmed that the footage was old and had already been handed over to the ICTY in March 2009.

He also said that "the last known footage was taken eight years ago. The last time Mladic was in military premises was at the Krcmari army barracks near (the western Serbian town of) Valjevo on June 1, 2002." The previously unseen images show Mladic in various restaurants and apartments and at what appears to be military barracks in Serbia, almost always accompanied by his wife Bosa and son Darko.

Family

Mladić is married to Bosa Mladić and they have two children; son Darko and daughter Ana. Ana died on March 24, 1994, in an apparent suicide. There were conflicting reports in various Serbian publications regarding her death and body discovery. Some media were saying that her body was found in her blood-splattered bedroom, while the others claim it was found in a nearby park or in the woods near the Topcider cemetery. However, it was established that she was killed by her father’s treasured pistol, the pistol Ratko Mladić had won as an award at the military school he attended as a young man. There are also conflicting opinions on the cause that drove her to take her own life. She was exposed to some of these reports in the relatively independent Russian press on her recent trip there just before killing herself. Darko Mladić married his wife Biljana, who gave birth to a girl Anastazija in 2001. Anastazija is Mladic's first grandchild. On March 2, 2006 she gave birth to a boy, Mladić's second grandchild. The child has been named after St. Stefan, the patron saint of the Bosnianmarker Serb entity of Republika Srpska.

References

  1. Ratko Mladic - Amended Indictment, from the UN ICTY’s website, October 10, 2002
  2. See Milosevic: A Biography by Adam Lebor, p4.
  3. http://books.google.com/books?id=QeVykay5lakC&pg=PA49
  4. http://books.google.com/books?id=VJP3PkyI2Z4C&pg=PA12
  5. Earlier this month, Karadzic tried to remove Mladic from his post after his forces lost two important towns in southwest Bosnia to the Croatian army. [1]
  6. http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/special/karadzic/timeline
  7. http://www.unhcr.ba/publications/B&HRET0105.pdf
  8. Mladic arrest claim is denied The Times
  9. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/01/23/europe/EU-Serbia-Mladic-Poll.php
  10. http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/16192/
  11. http://www.pressonline.rs/page/stories/sr.html?id=56946&sectionId=37&view=story
  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8094664.stm
  13. New footage of Ratko Mladic's life on the run The Australian, Online Newspaper Of The Year, June 11, 2009


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