International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] prosecutor Serge Brammertz [official profile] said that the arrest of accused Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive] was "significant on many levels" but questioned why it took Serbia nearly 16 years, in a speech [text, PDF] to the UN Security Council [official website]. Brammertz also submitted a report [text, PDF] to the Security Council which was critical of Serbia's efforts to capture Mladic and the other remaining ICTY fugitive Goran Hadzic. He said the arrest was a positive step but questions still remain as to Serbia's commitment to capturing the remaining fugitive:
Serbia has met one of its key obligations towards the [ICTY] and simultaneously acknowledged the rule of law as a central building block for its future. While [Mladic's] arrest is an excellent result, the fact remains that he was at large for 16 years. This raises troubling questions about how it was possible for this individual to elude the substantial resources of a state system for so many years. We welcome the Serbian Government's statement that it will investigate and prosecute the networks that supported [Mladic] during his time in hiding. We also welcome the Government's expressed determination to expose and punish any state officials who assisted him. We ask the Serbian Government to follow through on these undertakings as a matter of priority.Brammertz said that Hadzic must be "apprehended without further delay" and called on Serbia to help the "public understand why [Mladic] has been arrested and why justice demands that he stand trial."
Mladic made his first appearance in the ICTY [JURIST report] last week contesting the charges while simultaneously asking for more time to review them. Characterized by many media outlets as "defiant," Mladic saluted several times through the proceedings, referred to himself as "General Mladic" and smiled at some survivors of the massacre of Srebrenica [JURIST news archive] who had come to watch the proceedings. Serbian authorities captured Mladic [JURIST report] last month, ending a 16-year manhunt for the former general colonel and commander of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mladic lost his final appeal in Serbia to avoid extradition, and was transported to The Hague [JURIST reports] last week. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder, political persecution, forcible transfer and deportations, cruel treatment and the taking of peacekeepers as hostages. He is most infamous for ordering the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the massacre of Srebrenica during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive].