Mladic on way to Hague to face war crimes charges - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mladic on way to Hague to face war crimes charges

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The police motorcade that escorted war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic parks near a plane at a Belgrade International Airport, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko VojinovIc) The police motorcade that escorted war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic parks near a plane at a Belgrade International Airport, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko VojinovIc)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia extradited Ratko Mladic to the U.N. war crimes tribunal on Tuesday, 16 years after he was charged by the court for the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the worst massacre of civilians in Europe since World War II, forcing the West's hand in the Bosnian war.

Associated Press reporters at the Belgrade airport saw a government jet take of from the Belgrade airport at 5:40 p.m. (1540 GMT), minutes after Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said Mladic was on the airplane.

"Mladic is charged with the most serious crimes against humanity and the most serious violations of the international humanitarian law," Malovic said. "By handing over Mladic to The Hague, Serbia has fulfilled its international and moral obligation."

The extradition to The Hague, Netherlands came the same day judges rejected Mladic's appeal to stop the hand-over on the grounds that the 69-year-old is not mentally and physically fit to stand trial.

Mladic is charged at the tribunal with genocide for atrocities committed by Serb troops under his command during Bosnia's 1992-5 war, including the notorious Srebrenica massacre in July of 1995.

Mladic attorney Milos Saljic visited him in his jail cell in the early afternoon and said the former general was crying and very emotional during what he called a farewell visit by his wife and sister. They brought him a big suitcase with clothing he will need in The Hague, Saljic said.

Mladic was arrested Thursday in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run, looking worn and disheveled. In addition to the appeal, Saljic had asked for a team of doctors to examine Mladic, who is said to have suffered at least two strokes.

Earlier Tuesday, Mladic briefly released from his jail cell, traveling in a secret high-security armored convoy to a suburban cemetery where he visited the grave of the daughter who killed herself in 1994 during the war.

At the black marble grave, Mladic left a lit candle and a small white bouquet of flowers with a red rose in the middle.

"We didn't announce his visit to the grave because it is his private thing and because it represented a security risk," deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said. "The whole operation lasted for exactly 22 minutes and passed without a glitch. He was at the grave for a few minutes. I've been told that he reacted emotionally."

Mladic had repeatedly demanded that he be allowed to visit the grave, a memorial he had avoided for years as he tried to remain underground.

"We had cameras there and 24-hour surveillance, so he could absolutely not show up there," Vukcevic told the AP.

Mladic's 23-year-old daughter Ana, a medical student, committed suicide in 1994 with her father's pistol. She reportedly never wrote a suicide note, but media at the time said she ended her life at Mladic's Belgrade family house because of depression caused by her father's role in the war.

Mladic has rejected the official investigation into his case and claimed she was killed by his wartime enemies, saying the pistol was found in her left hand, although she was right-handed.

Kadira Gabeljic, whose husband and two sons were killed in the Srebrenica slaughter, reacted with disbelief and anger at Mladic's visit to his daughter's grave, saying she almost fainted at the news.

So far, she said, forensic experts have managed to exhume only part of the remains of her sons, Mesud and Meho, who were 16 and 21 when killed.

"He was allowed to do it, and I am still searching for my children for the past 16 years, ever since Srebrenica happened," she said.

"My husband had been found, but what about my children?," she asked. "I will wait for years. I might even die before their complete remains are found."

Serb nationalists in Serbia and parts of Bosnia still consider Mladic a hero — the general who against all odds tried to defend ethnic Serbs in the Bosnian conflict. In the Bosnian city of Banja Luka, thousands of supporters protested his arrest Tuesday, in the biggest demonstration so far in the country.

Demonstrators chanted Mladic's name, and carried his picture alongside those of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, whom they consider their biggest allies.

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