Prosecution charges Hague fugitives' helpers network

The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor's Office has charged 13 people with taking part in helping and harboring Hague indictees Ratko Mladić and Stojan Župljanin.

Source: Tanjug

Serbia War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević told a press conference on Friday that six persons are charged with helping Mladić, one of whom is a retired general and the then senior official of the military security.

Criminal proceedings have been launched against 13 individuals for whom we have sufficient grounds for suspicion of involvement in the case, Vukčević said and added that the prosecution is conducting pre-trial proceedings against seven individuals, while an investigation has already opened against six more in keeping with the Criminal Procedure Code. He could not specify whether there would be any new arrests because the investigation is a developing process.

When asked to disclose the name of the retired general, Vukčević refused to say whether this refers to General Aco Tomić, who was mentioned in the media as one of the helpers.

Criminal proceedings have been filed against seven people for helping Stojan Župljanin, including two local officials.

Vukčević also said that the prosecutor's office revealed the entire network of people who had been in contact not only with Mladić and Župljanin, but also with Goran Hadžić and Radovan Karadžić.

When it comes to the investigation regarding those who aided Ratko Mladić, Vukčević stressed that Mladić was within reach of the Action Team at one point after 2006 and that the operation was conducted very unprofessionally.

The event is being investigated, Vukčević emphasized, adding that Mladić went to the village of Lazarevo after that event in Belgrade, where he stayed for 5 years, that is until his arrest.

Mladić hid in military facilities until the law on cooperation with the ICTY was adopted, Vukčević noted.

After leaving military facilities in May 2002, a network of associates from the Army of Republika Srpska helped him. They were led by Jovo Đogo, who died in the meantime, and Stanko Ristić.

They have been tried by a general court, which is processing 10 people accused of helping Mladić, Vukčević remarked, adding that the verdict is expected by July 1.

The Prosecutor's Office also investigated the role of Rade Bulatović, former director of the Security Information Agency (BIA), who Vukčević said would be brought in to explain "some things," because there was reliable information that a person brought in from Republika Srpska told him about 11 locations where Mladić had been hiding.

Bulatović then ordered the arrests of Đogo's and Ristić's group, without waiting for them to lead him to Mladić, said Vukčević.

"For reasons we cannot fathom, he practically gave the signal to Mladić that his network of helpers had been discovered," said Vukčević.

He added that Bulatović was also connected to the case of Stojan Župljanin, who had the best organized network of helpers.

Vukčević said, however, that there was insufficient cause to bring charges against Bulatović.

When it comes to Goran Hadžić, Vukčević said that on the day the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) brought an indictment against him, information about this had obviously already leaked to Hadžić from the Tribunal itself.

As far as Radovan Karadžić, Vukčević said he was helped by his brother Luka and other family members, but that a number people also knew who was hiding behind Doctor Dabić, Karadžić's assumed identity.

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