Reaction to arrest of war crimes suspect Mladic

Thu May 26, 2011 2:07pm EDT

Former Bosnian Serb army commander and top war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic is seen on Mountain Vlasic in this April 1995 file photo. REUTERS/Ranko Cukovic/Files

Former Bosnian Serb army commander and top war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic is seen on Mountain Vlasic in this April 1995 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Ranko Cukovic/Files

REUTERS - Following is reaction to the arrest on Thursday of Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic in Serbia after years on the run from international genocide charges.

NAVI PILLAY, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

"It shows both the perpetrators and victims of such crimes that justice can and should prevail. ...

It also sends a strong message to political and military leaders contemplating crimes such as these, or those who fail to prevent or punish them, that times and regimes change, and there will be no impunity."

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:

"Mladic tried to become a conquering hero. Instead, he lived as a fugitive in obscurity and now faces years in custody. Justice works.

It is a welcome sign that Serbian officials arrested him. An emerging democracy is helping to confront its own past."

VALENTIN INZKO, EU SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA:

"I think this is a great step for Serbia. I would say, in my personal opinion, that Serbia can expect now reactions from Brussels. I think everybody speaks about the (EU) candidate status of Serbia, but most important is that the whole region is now moving. Croatia will become a member state soon, Serbia a candidate country, Montenegro as well, and working in Bosnia, to me, is also important.

This is the beginning, this is the beginning of the end of one of the most tragic chapters of Bosnian history.

Everybody is welcoming the step of the government. But first of all, it's a very significant day for the families of the victims."

NIKOLAI MLADENOV, BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

"This is a very good news for Serbia and the whole region ... The efforts of Serb leaders gave results and the full cooperation with the International tribunal for former Yugoslavia cannot be questioned any more."

BORIS ALEKSIC, SPOKESMAN FOR ULTRANATIONALIST SERBIAN RADICAL PARTY:

"Serb traitors have arrested a Serb hero.

This shameful arrest of a Serb general is a blow to our national interests and the state.

This is a regime of liars, dirty, corrupt and treacherous, a regime operated by the secret police."

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

"This is excellent news because we have to remember this man stands accused of some absolutely horrific crimes.

People should recognise that it's right that international law has a very long reach and a very long memory, and this should send a signal to all war criminals everywhere. In the end, we will get you."

WIDNEY BROWN, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:

"It took more than 15 years but at last the people who suffered have hope that he will be brought to justice.

The Serbian authorities need to renew their efforts to arrest the remaining indicted suspect General Goran Hadzic believed to be at large in either Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina and to bring him to justice."

CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF:

"It's of course a very important day for international justice and for the rule of law.

Mr Mladic will now face the charges against him in the International Tribunal; charges which are of course of a very serious nature ...

I know that people will also be thinking about Serbia and its future in the European Union.

What I know is that we will approach that with renewed energy because of today."

ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANCO FRATTINI:

"This is a real turning point which we welcome with great satisfaction. A turning point we had been hoping for and waiting for for a long time, more than 15 years.

Mladic was the symbol of ethnic cleansing and brutal violence that cost the lives of a very high number of civilians in what remains one of the darkest chapters in European history.

This is a test of great democratic maturity for Serbia, bringing it closer to Europe and the European Union, a process that Italy has strongly encouraged and that now needs to be accelerated further, without reservations."

AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MICHAEL SPINDELEGGER:

"The Serbian government has shown that it takes cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal seriously and wants to contribute to the investigation of one of the most serious war crimes in Europe since 1945.

Serbia has removed a significant obstacle on its path to EU membership."

AXEL HAGEDORN, DUTCH-BASED LAWYER REPRESENTING THE MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA GROUP:

"They are looking forward to face him in court at The Hague after so many years.

At the same time the Mothers of Srebrenica are anxious to know how he shall defend himself and if that has any implications on our civil lawsuit against the U.N. and the Dutch state as they neglected to protect the inhabitants of Srebrenica against the Bosnian Serbs under command of Mladic."

RICHARD DICKER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

"After nearly two decades on the run, justice has finally caught up with the man who personified the brutality of the Balkan wars. His arrest today is a clear message to accused like Omar al-Bashir and potential accused like Muammar Gaddafi that justice never forgets."

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux, compiled by the London World Desk, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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