INSTITUTE FOR WAR &
NEW MLADIC ARREST BID A "MEDIA SHOW"
Latest efforts to detain Hague indictee dismissed as public
relations exercise on eve of Brammertz visit.
By Aleksandar Roknic - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 668, 6 Nov 10
The Serbian authorities launched this week another search operation
aimed at getting information that could lead to the arrest of the most wanted Hague
tribunal fugitive, former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.
In the early morning hours of November 2, police searched two locations,
one in Belgrade and the other near in the central town of Arandjelovac, detaining one
person. Some documents have also been confiscated.
Only few days before the operation was carried out, Serbia's government
increased its reward for the capture of Mladic from one to ten million euro. It also
raised the reward for the second Hague fugitive, Goran Hadzic, from 250,000 to one million
However, Serbian interior minister Ivica Dacic told the Belgrade media
that the police operation carried out this week was not related to the increased sums.
"This operation has nothing to do with the [money]. It was carried
out based on some previous security information," Dacic was reported as saying.
On November 2, heavily-armed police sealed off a tourist complex near
the town of Arandjelovac and a restaurant in Belgrade, both belonging to a man police
suspect of having information that could lead to the arrest of the wartime Bosnian Serb
army commander, who has been evading justice since 1995, when the Hague tribunal indicted
him for genocide.
According to the spokesman for Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutor, Bruno
Vekaric, the suspect has close connections with Mladic and his family.
Ever since the rewards for Mladic and Hadzic were increased, phones at
the Serbian secret service are reported to have been ringing constantly. Dacic claims that
the main reason why Serbia has decided to raise the rewards is to show the international
community how seriously it takes its cooperation with the Hague tribunal.
However, analysts in Serbia doubt that the increased sums being offered
will lead to the fugitives' arrest.
Military analyst Aleksandar Radic believes the government has already
been doing what it can and the extra money won't make any difference.
"We had offered money before and it did not lead to Mladic's and
Hadzic's arrest. This is just something that is intended to show the European Union that
Serbia is serious," Radic told IWPR.
Security analyst Zoran Dragisic said this week's operation was just a
show for the media ahead of the visit of the Hague tribunal chief prosecutor, Serge
Brammertz, scheduled for November 15.
Brammertz is coming to Belgrade to prepare his regular annual report to
the United Nations Security Council on Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal.
Brammertz recently criticised Serbia for not doing enough to apprehend
the two remaining fugitives. He also asked the EU to continue pressuring the Belgrade
authorities to arrest Mladic and Hadzic, if they want to be given a chance to join the EU.
The Netherlands and Belgium are insisting that two indictees must be
detained before Serbia can be considered for full EU membership.
It is expected that this autumn the European Council will give its
opinion on whether Serbia can become a candidate for the EU, and union leaders could
decide on this as early as December.
Analysts say all this pressure resulted in the Serbian government's
decision to increase the rewards for Mladic and Hadzic.
According to Serbian media reports, the new amounts offered have
attracted bounty hunters from abroad, but Dacic said earlier this week that mercenaries
would not be welcome in his country.
"Serbia is not Wild West and bounty hunting is illegal in this
country," he said. He emphasised that the ten million euro reward was offered not for
Mladic's head, but for the information leading to his arrest.
In an effort to thwart the government, the nationalist Serbian
People's Movement 1389 has offered a reward of 10,000 euro for information leading to
persons who provide the police with information about Mladic's whereabouts. The movement
claims the government's attempts to arrest Mladic are pushing Serbia towards civil war.
The Serbian public are still divided on whether Mladic should be handed
over to the tribunal.
A recent poll conducted by the International Republican Institute, IRI,
has shown that over half the population does not agree that it's in the country's best
interest to send him to the tribunal. Only 36 per cent approve of the move.
The same poll showed that just 15 per cent of Serbian people support the
country's full cooperation with the court, while 35 per cent said it shouldn't do so
under any circumstances.
Aleksandar Roknic is an IWPR-trained reporter in Belgrade.