Karadzic sorry for Mladic's loss of freedom

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2011 1:18 PM
Karadzic sorry for Mladic's loss of freedom

In a message from his jail cell, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic regretted the arrest Thursday of his wartime ally Ratko Mladic, and said he wants to work with him "to bring out the truth" about the Bosnian war at their trials.

Karadzic's American lawyer Peter Robinson called The Associated Press to relay the message shortly after visiting Karadzic in the Hague detention unit where the two men accused of masterminding Europe's worst post-World War II massacre and countless other crimes will soon be reunited.

Both are accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men by Bosnian Serb forces in the U.N.-protected Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia and the relentless four-year siege of Sarajevo.

"President Karadzic is sorry for Gen. Mladic's loss of freedom and he looks forward to working with him to bring out the truth about what happened in Bosnia," Robinson said in a brief statement.

Mladic was Karadzic's military chief during the 1992-95 ethnic conflict that cost an estimated 100,000 lives.

They were twice indicted together in 1995, then each disappeared from public view and began a life as a fugitive. The West began pressing Serbia to track down and arrest them.

Now, Mladic faces the same procedure as Karadzic underwent three years ago after he was arrested on a Belgrade bus.

First, Mladic will face Serbian extradition procedures before he can be flown to The Hague. There, he will be taken directly to the tribunal's detention unit in a wing of a Dutch jail close to the North Sea coastline that Karadzic has called home since 2008.

"The tribunal looks forward to his expeditious transfer from Serbia to The Hague," the court said in a statement welcoming Mladic's arrest.

"Although charged with grave crimes, Mladic, like all other accused before the tribunal, is presumed innocent until proven guilty," it said.

It is unclear whether Mladic and Karadzic could be tried together, even though they share the same indictment. Karadzic's trial began Oct. 26, 2009, and it may be too late for a joint trial given the time Mladic will need to prepare.

Spokesman Frederick Swinnen said it was "too early to say" if prosecutors will ask for the two cases to be joined.

Robinson, a legal adviser to Karadzic who is conducting his own defense, also said he would discuss with Karadzic how his trial will progress and whether to factor in material from Mladic.

"We've never talked about that actually since it's never been an option before," he told the AP.

Richard Goldstone, the South African former prosecutor who filed the indictments against Karadzic and Mladic, said he was "absolutely delighted" when he woke to the news of Mladic's arrest.

Speaking by phone from California, where he is teaching at Stanford Law School, Goldstone said he never gave up hope Mladic would be arrested.

"I've always found it difficult to believe that the Serbian security people didn't know where he was," he added.