Serbia has no alternative to arresting fugitive General Ratko Mladic, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Serge Brammertz, said in Srebrenica.
“The priority is still the arrest of the two remaining fugitives, including Mladic,” said Brammertz on Tuesday during his first visit to Srebrenica, where he met families of those who were killed in July 1995.
On Monday Brammertz began a three-day visit to Bosnia. Today he will meet with representatives of former camp inmates and women victims of war.
Bosnian Serb forces, lead by General Mladic, killed more than 8,000 people, mostly Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys in Srebrenica, in what the ICTY has deemed an act of genocide.
“I mentioned in the last report and will also mention in the next report that the arrest of the remaining two fugitives Mladic and (Goran) Hadzic is at the center of cooperation and there can be no alternative to their arrest,” the prosecutor told reporters. Brammertz is set to present his report on ICTY cooperation to the UN Security Council this June.
Hadzic was the political leader of Serbs in Croatia from 1991-1995.
Brammertz’s report will be a key signal to the EU in its decision to unfreeze Belgrade’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which is part of its path to eventual EU membership.
“Because of the crimes that were allegedly committed by General Mladic, the tribunal was set up,” the prosecutor said.
So far, 3,749 victims of the genocide have been buried in the Potocari memorial site near Srebrenica, and another 2,000 bodies are awaiting full DNA identification.
Relatives of those who were killed, who met Brammertz on Tuesday, also addressed the ICTY’s decision to destroy artifacts found in mass graves around Srebrenica.
Relatives of victims told the prosecutor that they consider former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte responsible for the destruction of the artifacts.
“We want all those who participated in this to be responsible,” Hatidza Mehmedovic from the association Mothers of Srebrenica said.
Some 1,000 objects that were found with the bodies in mass graves were destroyed at the ICTY due to a potential health hazard, as was explained by the prosecution earlier.
Brammertz is set to visit Serbia in May.