On Wednesday, July 27th, Sarajevo Mayor Benjamina Karicsent her Belgrade colleague Aleksandar Sapic copies of the judgments of the Hague Tribunal, which sentenced Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment for war crimes and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Karic posted copies of the judgments to Belgrade after Mayor Sapic, an official of the Serbian Progressive Party, said that he did not know anything about Mladic‘s war crimes.
“What I know is that Mladic defended the Serbian people and probably if it hadn’t been for him, Serbs from Bosnia would have ended up similar to Serbs from Croatia. Whether he committed war crimes during the war, I really don’t know,” he wrote on the 23rd July Sapic on Twitter, responding to the request of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia, which requested the removal of Mladic‘s mural in Belgrade.
The mayor of Sarajevo told Radio Free Europe (RSE) that it was her duty to react to such statements, as the mayor of a city that was under the longest siege in modern history during the war in the 1990s. The siege lasted 1,425 days.
Karic called on the mayor of Belgrade to read the verdicts and “not to insult additionally the citizens of BiH who suffered aggression and the family members of Bosniaks killed in the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995″.
“The statement of the mayor of Belgrade deeply shook all the people who love BiH, who survived aggression and genocide and spent the war in this city. As mayors of European cities, cities of the future, we must speak the truth. We cannot say that we do are not familiar with something because we were not there. I wasn’t even born when many crimes in the world happened, but I never dispute them,” Karic pointed out.
On the anniversary of the installation of the Ratko Mladic mural in Belgrade, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights called on Mayor Aleksandar Sapic on July 22nd to order the utilityservices to remove the mural on the corner of Njegoseva and Aleksa Nenadovic streets.
In a statement, the Initiative stated that for 365 days, walls and facades in Belgrade have been inscribed and drawn with the name and face of a war criminal convicted, among other things, of one of the most terrible crimes committed on European soil after the Second World War.
After the mayor of Belgrade’s statement that he did not know who did what during the war in BiH, that is, that he did not know whether Mladic had committed war crimes, certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and political parties called him to account.
The Forum for Security and Democracy (FBD) from Belgrade announced that Sapic relativized the verdicts for the genocide in Srebrenica, and called on the prosecution to launch an investigation as soon as possible.
Namely, in recent years, murals of Ratko Mladic were also painted in several cities of the entity of BiH, Republika Srpska (RS) – in Banja Luka, in the northeast of BiH, Foca, and Kalinovik, in the east, Gacko and Nevesinje, in the south of BiH, and in Gradiska (in the northwest of BiH).
Former High Representative Valentin Inzko requested the removal of the mural with the image of Ratko Mladic, assessing that “the situation is so dire that a ‘tourist’ map of the top cities in BiH with murals of war criminals can be made”. Only Foca removed the mural, Radio Slobodna Evropa writes.