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Nine things to know about Ratko Mladic

Some background on one of Europe’s most wanted men, from his father’s death in 1945 to his rise as a Bosnian Serb military leader and later indictment for war crimes.

Composite photograph showing Mladic on the left in 1995 as he addressed his troops; and on the right, around the time of his arrest this week.
Composite photograph showing Mladic on the left in 1995 as he addressed his troops; and on the right, around the time of his arrest this week.
Image: AP Photo/Oleg Stjepanovic/Politika

SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL Ratko Mladic was arrested this week, after 16 years on the run. Today a judge ruled that, despite his lawyers’ arguments to the contrary, Mladic is fit to be extradited and stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Here are nine things you should know about the former Serbian army general:

  1. Mladic was born in southern Bosnia in 1942; his Communist Bosnian Serb father was killed by pro-Nazi Croatian troops three years later.
  2. Although initially wanting to become a teacher, Reuters reports that Mladic went to military school and spent most of his subsequent career in the Yugoslav People’s Army in Macedonia, before becoming the commander of the Bosnian-Serb army in 1992.
  3. Mladic’s troops laid siege to Sarajevo beginning in April 1992 and lasting for a record 43 months. In the Srebrenica massacre which occurred during the siege, around 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed.
  4. Mladic is believed to have gone into hiding in 2001 after former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was arrested, the BBC reports. Milosevic was arrested at his home in Belgrade after a 36-hour standoff and was being held at the Hague over war crimes when he was found dead in his cell in March 2006. Mladic’s arrest, along with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, is understood to be among the EU’s terms for Serbia’s accession to the bloc.
  5. In June 2010, the Guardian reports that Mladic’s family applied for him to be legally declared dead, arguing that they had no information or contact with him for several years “and he was a very sick man”.
  6. After being on the run for 16 years, Mladic was tracked down to the remote north Serbian village Lazarevo, where he was living a quiet low-key lifestyle among his relatives. He was taken into custody after Serbian security forces carried out an early morning raid yesterday.
  7. The United Nations war crimes tribunal at The Hague charged Mladic with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war in 1995. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon welcomed Mladic’s arrest, saying yesterday that his thoughts were “first and foremost with the victims and their families who have waited almost sixteen years for Mr Mladic to be brought to justice”.
  8. Upon his arrest, Mladic immediately admitted his identity. Serbian police chief Ivica Davic says Mladic said to him: “Good work. You found the one you were looking for”.
  9. After being detained at a Serbian prison, a judicial official said Mladic requested strawberries, some Tolstoy novels and a television set. Mladic also requested permission to visit the grave of his daughter, Ana, who shot herself with his gun in March 1994. Although it initially appeared the request would be refused outright, the Serbian prosecutor Bruno Vekaric says he will consider it.

- Additional reporting by the AP

Read: Ratko Mladic ruled fit to stand trial for war crimes by Serbian judge >

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