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Europe's most wanted war criminal may be dead, wife says

The wife of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic has said her husband may be dead. Meanwhile, Serbian authorities have detained a war criminal accused of shelling Croatian civilians during Yugoslavia's civil war.

Man looks at wanted posters of Mladic and Karadzic

Arresting war criminals is a sticking point with the EU

Europe's most wanted war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic may be dead, his wife Bosiljka told a Serbian court on Tuesday.

"He suffered brain hemorrhages on three occasions," Bosiljka said during the opening proceedings of her trial. "If he was alive he would have found a way to contact us [the family]."

Bosiljka Mladic is currently on trial in Serbia for weapons charges. Authorities found an automatic weapon and several revolvers while searching her home in 2008.

Her husband, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, has been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The UN tribunal, located in The Hague, accuses Ratko of laying siege to Sarajevo and Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. The assaults on the two cities killed thousands of Muslim men, women and children in the worst ethnic violence in Europe since World War II.

The European Union has made Serbian cooperation with the UN tribunal's pursuit of Ratko a condition for Belgrade's accession to the 27-member democratic bloc.

Serbs detain war criminal

Radovan Karadzic

Karadzic is on trial by a UN tribunal at The Hague

Meanwhile, alleged war criminal Bozidar Vucurevic was detained Monday on a Croatian arrest warrant as he tried to cross between Bosnia and Serbia. A Serbian court ruled Tuesday that Vucurevic should remain in prison pending extradition to Croatia.

"Many years have passed [since the war] and this should have happened earlier," Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor told journalists Tuesday.

Croatia has accused Vucurevic of war crimes against civilians and of destroying several historic monuments during the shelling of Dubrovnik, a popular tourist destination located on the Adriatic coast. The shelling killed 91 people and injured 200.

During the Bosnian war, Vucurevic was the mayor of Trebinje, which sits in the mountains overlooking Dubrovnik.

He is considered a close ally of alleged war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic, currently on trial in The Hague, is accused of masterminding a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan conflict.

Author: Spencer Kimball (AP, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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