a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Where’s Ratko?

Posted by Thomas Nephew on February 28th, 2007

Have you seen this man? He’s Ratko Mladic, the butcher of Srebrenica. The collective legal apparatus of Serbia, Europe, and the world need your help in finding him, because they apparently can’t find their own asses with both hands, a mirror, and all the lights on.

It’s been nearly a year since Serbia promised to deliver Mladic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by the end of April 2006, following an extension of a deadline by the European Union in relation to Serbia’s application for accession to that body. In the following weeks, the noose seemed to tighten with several arrests of people suspected of supporting Mladic, but the deadline came and went. A flurry of reports like this one suggested that Mladic had been located in a former Yugoslavian republic a few weeks earlier, was cut off, and that a team of British MI-6, CIA, and Serbian BIA intelligence agents was on the case. But nothing happened.

What is Mladic charged with, exactly? From the amended Mladic indictment handed by ICTY prosecutor Carla del Ponte on October 11, 2002:



  1. As Commander of the Main Staff of the VRS,* General Ratko MLADIC, acting individually and in concert with other members of the joint criminal enterprise, participated in the joint criminal enterprise from no later than 12 May 1992 until at least 22 December 1996 in the following ways:
  1. Planning, preparing, facilitating, or executing a campaign of persecutions, which included acts of genocide, within BiH,* by establishing control of the municipalities listed in Paragraph 36 of the indictment; attacking and destroying non-Serb towns and villages, as well as looting, destroying, and/or appropriating residential, commercial and religious properties in the municipalities; killing and terrorising the non-Serb inhabitants, and submitting them to cruel and inhumane treatment and conditions, including physical, psychological and sexual abuse, often in detention facilities; using non-Serbs for forced labour, including at front lines, and as human shields; imposing restrictive and discriminatory measures on the non-Serb population; and separating, deporting, and permanently removing non-Serbs who did not subjugate themselves to Serb authorities;
  2. Image hosting by PhotobucketPlanning, preparing, facilitating, or executing a protracted military campaign of artillery and mortar shelling and sniping into civilian areas of Sarajevo and upon its civilian population and institutions, killing and wounding civilians, and thereby inflicting terror upon its civilian population;
  3. Planning, preparing, facilitating, or executing an operation to take UN military observers and UN peacekeepers as hostages following NATO air strikes on 25 and 26 May 1995;
  4. Planning, preparing, facilitating, or further executing the campaign of persecutions, which included acts of genocide, after the capture of Srebrenica in July 1995, by forcibly transferring the Bosnian Muslim women and children from the Srebrenica enclave to Kladanj; capturing, detaining, summarily executing, and burying thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica, all of whom were either separated from the group of Bosnian Muslim refugees in Potocari or captured from the column of Bosnian Muslim men escaping the Srebrenica enclave; and exercising command and control over an organised and comprehensive operation designed to conceal the execution campaign by exhuming bodies from the initial mass graves and reburying them, en masse, in isolated secondary locations; […]

Most of this post was written in the summer of 2005, in anticipation of Mladic’s capture. As 2005 drew to a close, I kept dating it with a future date — “July 1, 2006” … “December 31, 2006” … “December 1, 2007” — to keep it at the top of my drafts list as time passed.

But of course I was kidding myself. Now that Serbia has been acquitted of genocide by the ICJ (the acronym stands for “International Caricature of Justice“), I don’t see Mladic being turned over any time soon; any time ever, really. So my hat’s off to you, Ratko, wherever you are; if it’s a choice between you and the judges of the ICJ, at any rate, the better man has won.

There used to be a little Reader’s Digest section called “Laughter makes the world go round.” But that bit of pablum surely deserves a corollary when it’s people like Mladic doing the laughing. Like Hitler’s laughter at his Tischgespraeche, Mladic’s laughter somewhere today is slowing a shabbier, sadder world in its tracks.

You know what? I hope the ICTY doesn’t find Mladic — I hope the Bosnians do. But you know what else: wouldn’t it be just a complete disgrace — not to say disaster — if Al Qaeda did?

* Abbreviations: “VRS”: Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska; “BiH”: Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One Response to “Where’s Ratko?”

  1. » Blog Archive » Srebrenica: 12 years on Says:

    […] …yet Serbia cleared of genocide (“reprehensibly” link above). 02/28/2007: Where’s Ratko? — includes specific ICTY charges against Ratko Mladic. 05/14/2007: Department of followups: […]

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