Ratko Mladic ‘Wasn’t in Hiding’ After the War

Author : Mircea Birca | Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Posted in category Balkans, Bosnia Hertegovina
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Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic lived normally at his apartment in Belgrade from 1997 until 2001, his former security officer told his war crimes trial in The Hague.

Dragan Lalovic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army unit in charge of Mladic’s security, told the international court on Monday that Mladic arrived in Serbia in March 1997 and did not go into hiding despite the fact that the Hague Tribunal indicted him for alleged war crimes in 1995.

‘He went to his apartment [in Belgrade]… he never stopped living in that apartment… He occasionally visited some army places, but he would return to that apartment,’ Lalovic said.

He stressed that Mladic was living a relatively normal life in Belgrade.

‘I was not helping Mladic to hide because, while he was in Serbia, he was not hiding… He was in Belgrade like any other citizen, he was going to the market… to the grocery store to buy bread… to football matches,’ he explained.

Lalovic also confirmed that he was aware of the war crimes indictment and the international arrest warrant for Mladic, but said that he was under orders from the Bosnian Serb Army to protect him. The Serbian authorities only issued an arrest warant for him in 2002.

Asked by the prosecution if Mladic visited the Topcider army barracks in Belgrade, where two army officers were killed in 2004, the witness initially answered no.

But after additional questioning, he admitted that Mladic did at one point visit Topcider to talk with some Bosnian Serb soldiers who were in charge of his security and were based there.

The prosecution lawyer quoted an interview given to BIRN by the father of one of the officers who died, who alleged that they were killed because they saw Mladic at the barracks.

‘I had no idea that place in Topcider existed until that happened… I don’t know what I have to do with it, I was already retired at the time… I cannot believe that that happened in such way,’ Lalovic responded.

Following the killings of the soldiers, the Serbian Army and its military court launched an investigation which resulted in a ruling that one soldier killed the other and then committed suicide.

But another investigation, initiated by the families and supported by a state commission, found that an unknown third person killed the two servicemen.

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