At first, the news seemed too good to be true: Serbia’s most wanted man, General Ratko Mladic, the accused architect of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of more than 8,000 men and boys, was arrested on Thursday morning after more than a decade of what had seemed to have been futile search. Few details of the arrest have been released so far. But, according to a Serbian security official who insisted on remaining annonymous, Mladic was living under a false name in the small village of Lazarevo, less than 100 km from the Serbian capital of Belgrade. He offered no resistance, and was generally “cooperative,” the official said, adding that the general, now 69, looked old and weary, and that one of his arms was paralyzed due to a brain hemorrhage suffered some years ago while on the run from Serbian and international law.
The villagers of Lazarevo told reporters that they were completely unaware that there was an indicted war criminal amongst them. “I had no idea that he was here, and even his arrest went unnoticed”, said Radmilo Stanisic, a local community leader. Mladic was allegedly living in his cousin’s house on the edge of the village under the name of “Milorad Komadic.” Many of Lazarevo’s 3,000 inhabitants are Serbian refugees from Bosnia and Croatia. Mladic was the chief commander of Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 war.