Why Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb commander wanted on genocide charges, is still free?

He is believed to move daily between drab communist-style apartment blocs in Belgrade, shuttled from hideout to hideout in a small boxy Yugo car by a loyal bodyguard. Serbian security officials said Thursday he is ill and virtually alone.

But questions remain about whether authorities have the political will to nab him.

The European Union, tightening pressure on Serbia to deliver Mladic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, suspended pre-membership talks Wednesday with the troubled Balkan country because of its failure to arrest the fugitive general.

That prompted Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to issue a forceful plea for Mladic's surrender, saying his "entire network has been uncovered."

Kostunica on Thursday ordered security services to "double their efforts" and capture Mladic "in the shortest period of time," a government statement said.

But security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the media, confess it isn't clear whether Kostunica - himself a nationalist - has the power or willingness to arrest the fugitive general.

Some say the premier has no control over large sectors of his security force which is still staffed by allies of Mladic and late President Slobodan Milosevic.

Carla Del Ponte, chief U.N. prosecutor said Wednesday that Serbian authorities knew Mladic's location as recently as 10 days ago and could have arrested him before he disappeared again.

She said Mladic is hiding in the Belgrade region and changing apartments daily, adding that she suspects he is eluding arrest with inside information. She also accused Kostunica of misleading her by insisting a month ago that Mladic's arrest was imminent.

Serbian security experts supported her claims, saying he is likely hiding in grim apartment blocks in a new part of Belgrade, with only one or two loyal bodyguards at his side. He has reportedly instructed the bodyguards to kill him should his capture seem inevitable.

"All those responsible for the failure to meet the obligations toward The Hague tribunal should submit resignations," said Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic. "I primarily mean the chiefs of the military and civilian intelligence services, the chief of police and the security intelligence agency chief."

Mladic has been on the run since 1995, when the U.N. tribunal indicted him for genocide in connection with the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica earlier that year, the AP reports

Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, a military analyst and former army spokesman, said Mladic appears to have access to information on security plans for his capture which helps him evade arrest.

He said the authorities are probably "counting on Mladic's poor health" - he is rumored to be suffering from kidney problems and recuperating from a series of strokes that some say has completely changed his appearance from a burly figure to a thin man.

Goran Petrovic, who headed the secret service following the 2000 ouster of Milosevic, accused Kostunica of sheltering Mladic in the past, but said international pressure for the general's arrest now is too strong to resist.

Petrovic said in a recent TV interview that "Kostunica most certainly has some kind of communication with Ratko Mladic."

Subscribe to Pravda.Ru Telegram channel, Facebook, RSS!

Author`s name Editorial Team