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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Serbia to target those that protected war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic

The Serbian president has vowed to investigate those who may have colluded with Mladic to keep him from the authorities. Meanwhile, details of how the former army chief lived in hiding have been emerging.

Ratko Mladic as he appears now following his arrest this week.
Ratko Mladic as he appears now following his arrest this week.
Image: HO/AP/Press Association Images

SERBIA HAS SAID that it will investigate anyone who may have helped captured army chief Ratko Mladic avoid arrest for the past 16 years.

The country’s president, Boris Tadic, told BBC that anyone who protected the former Bosnian Serb army commander would be prosecuted.

On Thursday, Mladic was arrested following a 16 year manhunt.

He was wanted for the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica as well as other crimes committed by troops under his command during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

He faces what will likely be a lengthy war crimes tribunal at the International Criminal Court in The Hague after a judge ruled yesterday that he was fit to stand trial despite his lawyer arguing otherwise.

Tadic has told the BBC that investigations would focus on any members of the Serbian armed forces or police that supported Mladic.

He added that he believed Mladic was able to count on the support of “some people in the state system” in the years that he evaded capture.

He said:

In the next few days, we’ll have a completed picture of what happened in the past two-and-a-half years, even more, in the past 16 years. And, for us, that is going to be very, very important.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports today that the once proud Mladic ended up in near-poverty, shielded by a distant cousin at a house in the Serbian village of Lazarevo which Serbian security forces raided on Thursday.

Mladic was living in a dark, untidy room in conditions closed to poverty.

He is described as having been frail but coherent with slurred speech as a result of two strokes which he is believed to have suffered, one which left the fingers on one of his hands immobile.

The papers report that villagers in the area still appear to hold the former commander with great affection adding that no one locally criticises Mladic, the angriest saying he was fighting for justice for Serbs, the more lukewarm saying that he is innocent until proven guilty.

Read: Nine things to know about Ratko Mladic >

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