The European Commission is still waiting for cast-iron confirmation of the arrested man's identity before making a statement, but said it had 'all reason to believe' that the man is accused war criminal Ratko Mladic.
Pascal Guyot/AFP Photo/Getty Images/Newscom
Serbian security services today arrested fugitive Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who had spent 15 years on the run from genocide charges, so removing Serbia's biggest obstacle to European Union entry.
Mr. Mladic is accused of presiding over the massacre of 7,800 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995. He also faces blame for a three-and-a-half year siege of Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which as many as 10,000 people were killed or went missing. He was the most prominent Bosnian war crimes suspect at large since the arrest of Radovan Karadzic in 2008.
"This removes a heavy burden from Serbia and closes a page of our unfortunate history," said Serbian President Boris Tadic in a press conference called to confirm the arrest.
Mladic's extradition to The Hague to face the war crimes charges is under way.
Today's arrest is a boost to Serbia's hopes of gaining EU candidate status in the fall. The European Commission is waiting for cast-iron confirmation of the arrested man's identity before making a statement, but said it had "all reason to believe" the man is indeed Mladic.
The security services are reported to be conducting DNA tests to confirm the arrested man is Mladic, a process that is expected to take three days.
Mladic was sent into retirement in October 1996 with sightings of him becoming less frequent, before becoming a full-time fugitive in recent years. The Serbian authorities have long said they could not find him, a contention many in the international community doubted.
Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb President during the Sarajevo siege, is currently in The Hague after being captured in Belgrade living under false papers in July 2008.