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The Guardian:14 years a fugitive: the hunt for Ratko Mladić, the Butcher of Bosnia


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14 years a fugitive: the hunt for Ratko Mladić, the Butcher of Bosnia


In July 1997, a Yugoslav army officer named Milan Gunj received an urgent phone call at home in Belgrade. Something strange was happening at work and he was needed immediately.


Staff Sergeant Gunj’s job could best be described as that of an army hotelier. He had risen through the ranks from barracks cook and caterer to the rather pleasant task of looking after a string of gated and guarded holiday homes the Yugoslav military had traditionally provided for its top brass. The man calling him on this summer day was a soldier who worked in one of these bucolic retreats, at a place called Rajac in the wooded hills of central Serbia. Some unexpected guests had arrived. The soldier dared not say any more on the phone, but he was insistent Gunj come as soon as possible.


A few moments later, he received a second call. This time it was from an aide in the office of the Yugoslav chief of the general staff, ordering Gunj to get to Rajac immediately and deal with his visitors. He would be told what he needed to know when he arrived. He got in his car and headed south.


Two hours later, he arrived at Rajac after dusk and found a group of about a dozen armed men in civilian clothes milling around the entrance, and then the reason for all the subterfuge came striding out of the hotel lobby, as if he had just commandeered the place: the unmistakable barrel-chested figure and blunt ruddy face Gunj had seen in a hundred news reports of the Bosnian war – General Ratko Mladić.


“I was somewhat surprised, scared, and confused by this turn of events,” Gunj recalled. “First of all, because this was in my compound, and I had no information that this would happen. And secondly, I know that Mr Ratko Mladić has been accused of certain acts by the Hague tribunal. So at that point in time I was in a state of panic.”


Gunj was by no means alone in feeling terror in Mladić’s presence. The general stood accused of the worst atrocities Europe had witnessed since the Nazi era. The Bosnian Serb general had overseen three years of the Sarajevo siege and the daily attrition of its residents by shelling and sniper fire. He was also there when the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica was overrun by his troops in July 1995. Presenting himself as an instrument of national retribution, he declared the sacking of Srebrenica as payback against “the Turks” for a massacre of Serbs under the Ottoman empire. Mladić reassured panicked captive Muslim women that their loved ones would be safe at the same time that his soldiers were rounding up and slaughtering 8,000 husbands and sons. The beetroot-faced officer who had turned up to stay at Gunj’s vacation home was the world’s most wanted man.

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  • 2 months later...


Ex-Serb leader Karadzic guilty of Srebrenica genocide


Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of genocide on Thursday over the Srebrenica massacre and crimes against humanity committed during the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia.


UN judges at the international tribunal in The Hague said Karadzic was guilty of 10 of the 11 counts brought against him during the five-year trial, and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Karadzic, 70, is the highest-ranking person to face a reckoning before the UN tribunal over a war two decades ago in which 100,000 people were killed as rival armies carved up Bosnia along ethnic lines.


Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic was criminally responsible for extermination, murder, attacking civilians, and terror for overseeing the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the 1992-95 war.


Karadzic used a campaign of sniping and shelling, targeting the city's civilians as a way of furthering his political goals, Kwon said.


Karadzic's lawyer, Peter Robinson, said his client was "astonished" by the ruling.


"President Karadzic was disappointed. He doesn't feel he is legally responsible for any crimes. Nobody has really won from today's judgment," Robinson said.

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I was in Bosnia from 1999-2000 and Kosovo 2001-02. I have been to Srebrenica and visited the soccer stadium. Surreal to think the towns men and boys were massacred there. REALLY bizarre how a lot of Serbs still think they did nothing wrong. We were always looking for him and Ratko Mladic. It is really crazy that it took the world almost 15 years to capture these cretins. I will never understand the Balkans...

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