Serbia court acquits 10 accused of aiding war crimes suspect Mladic

[JURIST] The First Municipal Court in Belgrade [official website, in Serbian] on Friday acquitted 10 men suspected of helping former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic [case materials; JURIST news archive] evade arrest. Mladic is one of two high-level targets still at large under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] and faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the Srebrenica massacre and other war crimes violations during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archives]. The men were charged with helping Mladic by renting apartments in Belgrade for him in 2002. Judge Dragan Garic held that some of the charges were barred by the statute of limitations [Press Online report, in Croatian], which had expired in 2008 and 2009. For the remaining charges, Garic held that there was not enough evidence to warrant a conviction. Prosecutors have announced that they will appeal [PTC report, in Croatian] the ruling to the Court of Appeal in Belgrade [official website, in Serbian].

In September, ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] called on Serbia and other governments [JURIST report] to increase efforts to find and arrest Mladic. Brammertz said failure to arrest Mladic would send war criminals the message that if they avoid capture long enough, the world will cease to care about bringing them to justice. Brammertz also emphasized the importance of seeking justice for Mladic's victims. Authorities must work quickly to arrest Mladic, Brammertz noted, since the ICTY is scheduled to be shut down in three years. In May, Mladic's family filed a claim in the Belgrade District Court seeking to have him declared officially dead [JURIST report] in order to collect his state pension and sell his property. Earlier that month, the ICTY announced that the Office of the Prosecutor filed a motion to amend the indictment against Mladic [JURIST report] to include 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in order to help speed up court proceedings once Mladic is captured.

 

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