Ex-Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic says he had nothing to do with killing 7,500 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica Massacre during the Bosnian War.
The BBC reports that Mladic’s son, Darko Mladic, delivered his father’s statement of innocence after visiting the alleged war criminal at Serbia’s war-crimes court. The older Mladic has been held there since his arrest Thursday after being discovered in the small farming village of Lazarevo.
Ratko Mladic, 69, had been on the run from authorities for 16 years. He plans to appeal against a transfer to a war crimes tribunal at The Hague, where he would likely stand on trial for the massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian War.
“He said that whatever was done in Srebrenica, he had nothing to do with it,” relayed Darko Mladic, after the visit with his father.
The former general is not without supporters; the BBC reports that more than 10,000 Serbs have gathered in Belgrade to protest his extradition, calling him a national hero and singing along with nationalist songs played over loudspeakers.
But Serbia’s campaign to be brought into the fold of the European Union has hinged in no small part on finding and prosecuting the accused war criminal. Everyone from France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Mladic’s capture, according to a piece in the New York Times, which pointed out that justice for the former general could help open up the Balkans to possible membership.
“This unlocks the process for the whole region,” former E.U. official Heather Grabbe told the Times. “If Serbia can start E.U. membership negotiations with Montenegro, that allows others to do so when they are ready.
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