THE HAGUE — Serbia on Tuesday extradited Ratko Mladic to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he will stand trial for genocide, 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.
A Serbian government jet carrying the Bosnian Serb wartime military commander landed in Rotterdam and pulled into a hangar, out of view of reporters and live television cameras. A Dutch police helicopter stood just outside the hangar’s entrance, and police vehicles also pulled up nearby.
The government plane touched down at Rotterdam The Hague Airport hours after judges in Belgrade, Serbia, rejected his appeal to delay his extradition on grounds of ill health and the Serbian justice minister authorized his handover to U.N. officials in The Hague.
Within a few days he will be brought before a judge for a preliminary hearing.
In Belgrade, Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said the handover marked the fulfillment of Serbia’s “international and moral obligation.”
“Mladic is charged with the most serious crimes against humanity and the most serious violations of international humanitarian law,” she said.
Mr. Mladic faces charges of genocide and other war crimes for atrocities committed by Serb troops under his command during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, including the notorious Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 and the 44-month siege of the capital, Sarajevo.
Mr. Mladic‘s extradition brought a satisfied response from war victims.
“This means a lot to the victims of genocide,” said Munira Subasic, head of the Sarajevo-based Association of Srebrenica Massacre Survivors.
“Mladic has left, and we believe that the evil will speak out of him and that he will tell the truth,” Ms. Subasic said.
In Bosnia, Serb nationalists staged demonstrations in support of Mr. Mladic, some carrying banners that said, “The eagle is gone but the nest remains.”
Mladic lawyer 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, Mr. Saljic said.
Mr. Mladic, looking worn and disheveled, was arrested Thursday in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run. In addition to the appeal, Mr. Saljic had asked for a team of doctors to examine Mr. Mladic, who is said to have suffered at least two strokes.