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(Washington, D.C.)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, congratulated the Serbian government following reports that Serbia has arrested Ratko Mladic, the highest-ranking war crimes suspect still at large from the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

“Today is a good day for the entire Western Balkans region,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I want to congratulate Serbian President Boris Tadic and his government for capturing Ratko Mladic so that he can face international justice. Mladic is one of the world’s most wanted men and is accused of some of the worst atrocities of the Balkans Wars. His arrest is an opportunity for Serbia to close a sad, terrible chapter in this region’s history, and I hope it will mark another step in Serbia’s continued integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.”

Mladic, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on charges of genocide and extermination, is alleged to have committed the worst ethnically motivated mass murder in Europe since World War II, including the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.  The former military leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the early 1990’s, Mladic was backed by the former Yugoslav President and accused war criminal, Slobodan Milosevic. He has been on the run for more than 15 years despite an international manhunt.  Mladic’s fugitive status has been considered a large obstacle in Serbia’s European Union membership talks.

Senator Shaheen visited the Western Balkans in February 2010, where she traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Belgrade, Serbia, and was briefed by U.S. officials on the efforts being made to capture Mladic.  She chaired a hearing on the Western Balkans and Serbia in April 2010 entitled “Unfinished Business in Southeast Europe: Opportunities and Challenges in the Western Balkans.”  The hearing discussed obstacles to Serbia’s EU integration, including the Mladic issue.