U.N. prosecutor calls for arrest of Karadzic, Mladic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The United Nation’s new war crimes prosecutor called on Friday for the arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the two top war crimes suspects from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Serge Brammertz, who took over in January from Carla del Ponte as U.N. chief prosecutor, said during his first visit to Bosnia that the U.N. war crimes tribunal should not close down until all remaining fugitives were brought to justice.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), set up in 1993 to try war crimes suspects from the wars that followed the break-up of the former socialist federation, is slated to close down in 2010.

“The international community in general and the countries in the region have to do everything they can so that fugitive war criminals, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are arrested,” Brammertz told a news conference in Sarajevo.

“It is difficult for me to imagine that the tribunal could close its doors without these persons prosecuted,” he added.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Karadzic and his military commander Mladic are indicted for genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, in which some 11,000 people were killed.

Both men are at large nearly 13 years after being indicted. Mladic is believed to be under the protection of his loyalists in Serbia and Karadzic’s whereabouts are not known.

Other remaining fugitives are Bosnian Serb Stojan Zupljanin and Croatian Serb Goran Hadzic.

Del Ponte left the job disappointed that she failed to win the battle for their arrest after years of fight.

The outspoken Swiss prosecutor visited Belgrade 20 times during her eight-year tenure. She accused Serbia of deliberately failing to arrest the two men and urged the European Union to make their handover a condition for Serbia’s accession.

Brammertz said he planned to visit Serbia soon to assess its level of the cooperation with the Hague tribunal.

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