Mladic Extradited To The Hague To Stand Trial
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The former Bosnian-Serb general, Ratko Mladic, has been extradited from Serbia to The Hague. He faces charges of debt genocide and war crimes before the international Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, also known as the ICTY. At issue is the role he played in the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre at Srebrenica in the 1990s. Mladic had evaded capture for 16 years.
As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, it took less than a week to extradite him after his arrest by Serbian authorities.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Serbian TV broke into regular programming to provide live coverage of Mladic's last hours in Serbia.
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POGGIOLI: Journalists outside the top security prison where Mladic was being held observed two separate convoys of police jeeps and armored vehicles head to the airport, with all nearby streets and the highway closed to traffic. A half- hour after the last convoy left, Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovich appeared before the media and said Mladic was airborne and headed to The Hague.
SNEZANA MALOVICH: Bringing Mladic to justice, it is satisfaction for the victims and families of all who have been victims of the crimes for which he has been charged before the ITCY. At the same time, this act represents a message relevant for the process of reconciliation in the region.
POGGIOLI: This morning, judges rejected an appeal mailed yesterday by Mladic's lawyers seeking to stop the extradition. Attorney Milos Saljic claimed his client is sick and confused. But prosecutors dismiss this as a delaying tactic, adding that a team of doctors had said Mladic is fit to stand trial.
Attorney Saljic visited Mladic in his jail cell today. He said the former general, known during the war for his strutting and brusque manner, was crying and very emotional as he said goodbye to his wife and sister.
At dawn, Mladic was allowed to leave his jail cell and taken in an armored convoy to visit the grave of his daughter, Anna, who killed herself in 1994, reportedly because she was in deep depression over her father's role in the Bosnian War.
Reporters were surprised by how authorities handled Mladic's later transfer to the airport, giving it such visibility. When former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnia-Serb leader Radovan Karadzi were sent to The Hague, their transfers were furtive and late at night to avoid violent protests by Serbian ultranationalist.
Today, it appeared the Belgrade government wanted to prove to the world that Serbia is finally ready to come to terms with its brutal past.
Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Belgrade.
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