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26 May 2011

Bosnian war crimes suspect arrested

The Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, accused of orchestrating the Srebrenica genocide, has been

By Duncan Robinson

The former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic has been arrested, according to reports emerging from Serbia.

Mladic is accused of orchestrating the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War. Between 11 and 13 July, approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and children were killed, under the orders of Mladic.

Footage of events directly preceding the massacre can be seen on YouTube. It makes for chilling viewing.

In one video, Mladic is seen patting the cheek of a Bosnian Muslim boy. In another, a Bosnian Serb solider goes down a line throwing sweets to children. Mladic’s intentions become clearer in the clip below.

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In it, he says to camera:

Here we are on the 11th of July 1995, in Serb Srebrenica, the day before one of the greatest Serbian holidays. We give this town to the Serbian people. The moment has finally come after the uprising against the Dahi [the Turks] to take revenge against the Turks in this place.

His revenge took the following form: for three days, Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed and buried in mass graves.

Sixteen years later, the distressing task of recovering and identifying bodies from Srebrenica continues. To date, more than 6,000 have been identified. While the man accused of ordering the massacre remained at large, however, there was little chance of full closure for the families of the victims. Now that Mladic has been captured, however, he will stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Justice will not be swift – it will be painfully long-winded and bureaucratic – but hopefully it will come.