Protesters, Police Clash Over Mladic Arrest Ultranationalists gathered outside parliament in Belgrade Sunday waving posters of Ratko Mladic, who was captured last week after nearly 16 years as a fugitive. Mladic's lawyer says he is too sick to stand trial but Serbian authorities are determined to extradite him to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to be tried for the execution of thousands at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war.
NPR logo

Protesters, Police Clash Over Mladic Arrest

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136795771/136800318" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Protesters, Police Clash Over Mladic Arrest

Protesters, Police Clash Over Mladic Arrest

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/136795771/136800318" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Mladic was indicted for atrocities during the Bosnian War, including the massacre of thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica. Now, ultranationalist Serbs are protesting his arrest. Last night, they clashed with the police in Belgrade, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Ultranationalists gathered outside parliament, waving posters of Ratko Mladic, their national hero. Many protesters were teenagers. They went wild for Mladic's son, Darko.

DARKO MLADIC: (Through translator) Ratko Mladic was not fighting against other nations, other religions. Ratko Mladic was fighting for the freedom of his nation.

POGGIOLI: The rally ended in clashes with the police, but at some 7,000 people turnout was small by local standards. Nevertheless, most Serbs have not welcomed Mladic's arrest. Pollster Srdjan Bogosavljevic says many citizens believe it was carried out under international pressure.

SRDJAN BOGOSAVLJEVIC: Only a small percentage said finally he's arrested, I'm happy that something like that has happened. Mostly people did - some have some feelings that it is kind of unjust, approximately three-fourth of the people are that.

POGGIOLI: Serbia's deputy war crime's prosecutor Bruno Vekaric says investigators gradually cut off Mladic's financial lifeline and support network. He possessed only $800 when captured. Extradition to The Hague, Vekaric says, is a matter of days.

BRUNO VEKARIC: (Through translator) We want to express our sorrow for the victims. This is our contribution to justice. We do not want the world to remember us for our war commanders, but as the country of tennis star Novak Djokovic.

POGGIOLI: Vekaric says, physically, Mladic, is a far cry from the strutting, hard-drinking military chief. But the arrogant personality seems intact.

VEKARIC: (Through translator) I saw an old, tired man moving slowly, but he was very aggressive, accusing me of being a CIA agent plotting against Serbs.

POGGIOLI: A panel of doctors says Mladic's ailments are not so serious and he's fit to stand trial. This contrasts with the description given by his defense lawyer, Milos Saljic, who says it's a miracle Mladic is alive after two heart attacks and three strokes.

MILOS SALJIC: (Speaks foreign language)

POGGIOLI: Analyst Dejan Anastasijevic says this trove of documents shows the degree of command and control Mladic exercised over his troops.

DEJAN ANASTASIJEVIC: So he will be his own chief prosecution witness. It will be extremely difficult for him to prove, in the light of these documents and all the other documents that is in the possession of the tribunal, that he did not have command and control over his forces.

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Belgrade.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.