|"Ratko Mladic has been given a TV and strawberries in jail and has received family visits." (Ho/AP)|
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer, May 28, 2011
"Ratko Mladic delivered a tirade of abuse against officials involved in his capture when he was first brought to court, the Observer has learned. He accused them of 'working for the CIA' and later remarked chillingly to one prominent official that he could have had him killed on two occasions. Mladic, who has refused to recognise the authority of the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he is expected to be extradited to this week on charges of genocide, also denied being a killer, adding that all Serbs bore a shared guilt for voting for President Slobodan Milosevic, architect of the Balkan wars. How Mladic has behaved since being brought to a Belgrade court was disclosed in the most detailed account yet of the state of mind of the man charged with orchestrating the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. It came as a source close to Serbia's intelligence service, the BIA -- or Security Information Agency -- said Mladic had been living openly, although 'not continuously,' in the village of Lazarevo, where he was found, for several years. A BIA team observing the house of Branko Mladic, where Ratko Mladic was found, in one of two addresses he had been using in the area, had watched him going about 'everyday activities' including helping his cousin Branko on the farm and attending village celebrations. 'Personally speaking,' said the source, 'I think some officials knew where he was living. It was peculiar, too, that when the house was raided that there were no personal possessions there.' Mladic's behaviour since capture was described by Bruno Vekaric, a deputy prosecutor at the War Crimes Prosecutor's Office, who has met Mladic twice since his arrest in Lazarevo on Thursday.
'He was really angry at first. He recognised me from television and said: "You're in the CIA!" He knew my name and asked me: "Are you a Serb?" You know, because it is not a common Serbian name. I told him my father was from Dubrovnik [in Croatia]. He felt like a great Serb and was angry at the way he was being treated on that first day.' Vekaric added that examination of Mladic by court-appointed medical experts confirmed that he had suffered at least two minor strokes, perhaps more, but was coherent and fit to stand trial. That was confirmed by his wife, Bosiljka, speaking after visiting Mladic, who said he had suffered a stroke in 2008. 'He was stubborn and resistant. He did not want to co-operate with the judge at all on the first day,' said Vekaric. 'He spoke about his career. And what was interesting -- on that first day -- was that he said to me: "Bruno, I am not a killer. But the people who killed, they should be held responsible."' ... Mladic emerges from the account as a man who has a desperate need to explain himself. 'He needs to speak. To communicate,' said Vekaric. 'He was alone for so long he needs to speak.' Although they had never met before, Mladic made clear to Vekaric that he had followed his statements over the years on television. 'The first day he was very tired. He was stressed and aggressive. The second time I saw him in court he apologised to me for his outburst.' What has been visible since then is a more familiar Mladic, arrogant and demanding, insisting not only on his own innocence but on the shared guilt of all of the Serbian people. 'He said: "You elected [Slobodan] Milosevic, not me. You are all guilty, not me."' [...]"