Mladic Next?

With Radovan Karadzic, the indicted political mastermind of the Serbian wars of the 1990s, sipping sodas behind bars in The Hague, Ratko Mladic, the military leader accused of carrying out Karadzic’s notorious orders of ethnic cleansing and genocide, remains the most wanted criminal from Yugoslavia’s destructive Milosevic era. For over a dozen years, Mladic has been believed to be still living in Serbia, at times openly, confident in his protection by the Serbian government. With the precedent of Karadzic’s capture, though, and Serbia’s growing interest in strengthening ties with the European Union, a stepped-up search for Mladic appears to be underway.

At least according to the information divulged on wire reports, though, it doesn’t seem to have taken much to increase the lackluster efforts at apprehension that had characterized the Serbian government’s history of inaction. In operations that “went smoothly,” EU peacekeepers this morning searched the houses of Mladic’s family members, which, while certainly proactive, seems like a step that should have been taken long ago. Yet, coupled with the confiscation of certain items for investigation, the searches, according to BBC reporter Helen Fawkes, represent a sign for optimism:

She says the last time EU peacekeepers mounted an operation like this was six months ago, when they raided the family home of the former Bosnian Serb political leader, Radovan Karadzic.

Mladic, for various reasons, may be harder to find than Karadzic was, but his arrest is sought perhaps even more urgently by many victims’ families. While Mladic likely has not adopted as bizarre a disguise as the “poet-intellectual” Karadzic, rejuvenating the search with EU, NATO, and Serbian cooperation is an encouraging development for both the long-standing International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the prospect of achieving justice for the horrific crimes committed there.

(image from flickr user Bogomir Doringer under a Creative Commons license)