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Ratko Mladic Arrested; Yemen Clashes Intensify

Aired May 26, 2011 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Arrested at last. Serbia says the highest-ranking war crimes suspect from the Balkan Wars has been found.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout on Hong Kong, and you were watching special coverage here on CNN.

Now, within the past hour, Serbian president Boris Tadic has confirmed the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the most wanted war crimes suspect in the Balkans conflict in the 1990s.


BORIS TADIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT: We arrested Ratko Mladic. Extradition process is under way. This is the result of full cooperation of Serbia with the ICC tribunal. We can always believe in our strategy and the work of everyone involved in this process.

Today, we closed one chapter, a chapter of our recent history, that will bring us one step closer to full reconciliation in the region.


STOUT: Now, Mladic, the former leader of the Bosnian-Serb army, was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in 1995. He is accused of genocide and crimes against civilians, including rape and torture.

Now, Serbia had offered a $14 million reward for Mladic's capture, knowing that the country could not qualify for EU membership without his arrest. And 16 years after the slaughter the search is over.

Ratko Mladic has been on the run for years. And just to remind you, in 1992, he led the siege against Sarajevo, a siege that lasted more than two years and left thousands dead.

Now, in 1995, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in the attack and siege on the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. And on July 24th of that year, Mladic and 51 others, they were indicted by the U.N. established International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He's charged with atrocities committed during the four years of civil war.

Now, in 2007, Serbian officials, they offered $1.4 million for information leading to Mladic's capture. Now, in 2010, they raised that number to $14 million. And then the United States stepped in and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture.

Now, Mladic's former boss, Radovan Karadzic, he was arrested in July, 2008, and is now on trial in The Hague.

Now, the capture of Mladic comes 10 years after former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was arrested.

And with more on today's developments, let's go live now to our Atika Shubert.

Now, Atika, how was Ratko Mladic able to evade capture for so long?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer is we don't know. President Boris Tadic wouldn't give any details about the arrest, only saying that he was proud of the security forces that made the arrest, and that there would be a full investigation into who may have helped Mladic to evade arrest for all these years.

And this is the big question. Where has he been hiding? Who has been helping him? And how did his arrest come about now?

STOUT: Now, let's talk about what happens next. After the arrest, he will be transferred to The Hague. We heard from the Serbian president, he made the announcement in the last hour, but he declined to say how long it would take to transfer Mladic to The Hague.

He said that it would not be up to him. Is that true?

SHUBERT: Well, it really is now up to, in a sense, the Serbian legal system and how quickly they can extradite him. But a lot of this probably depends on Serbian political will.

Serbia's admission to the European Union really hinged on the capture of Mladic. There was a feeling certainly among EU officials that Serbia was somehow dragging its feet in capturing the final fugitives wanted by the International Criminal Court. So this is a major stumbling block removed.

So, in many ways, it's in Serbia's interest to get him extradited as soon as possible to The Hague. But as you know, all legal processes take some time, so we're really not sure if we're talking a matter of weeks or a matter of months at this point.

STOUT: Now, statements have been rolling in from world leaders, including a statement from the European Union. What have you heard?

SHUBERT: Well, we did hear from the EU representative, Catherine Ashton, who I believe is actually visiting Serbia. And she basically said that this is a very positive development and that she wanted to see Mladic brought to The Hague to face the International Criminal Court without delay, as soon as possible.

So, these are certainly positive signs from the European Union. And, you know, it's interesting to note, actually, that the International Criminal Court on the former Yugoslavia was due to give a report to the United Nations on Serbian cooperation for apprehending these fugitives. And so this comes at a very good time, although, basically, Serbia was able to produce Mladic before this report got to the U.N.

Now, according to the press conference of President Boris Tadic, there was no calculation in the timing of the arrest. It just so happened this way. But certainly it does make Serbia's case for ascension to the EU.

STOUT: And has there been any reaction from the victims of the brutal Balkan Wars to the arrest of Ratko Mladic?

SHUBERT: You know, this is so new, this breaking news, that we have not heard from victims yet. But without a doubt, this is welcomed news, not just for victims, families of victims, but also for many in the international community.

Remember, Srebrenica was a U.N.-protected enclave. And there is a very heavy feeling of responsibility, particularly by U.N. peacekeepers who were on the ground that did not have the authority, did not have the weapons to stop Mladic when he basically almost walked into Srebrenica.

So there will be -- this is a very positive development for them and an opportunity now to see justice finally being done.

STOUT: But is there any danger of a sort of negative reaction from inside Serbia that this arrest could provoke opposition from hard-liners, from nationalists in the country?

SHUBERT: Well, there are always going to be those supporters of that old guard of Mladic, but they do seem to be in the minority. We did hear from a reporter within Belgrade earlier that said many Serbians feel it's time to move on and that Serbia needs to deal with its past in order to move forward.

So, while there may be some protests, it does seem that many in Serbia will welcome this news, that it's come really many years too late, he should have been apprehended earlier. And this is an opportunity for Serbia to show that it is cooperating with the international community and the International Criminal Court, and it's ready to move forward.

STOUT: OK. Ratko Mladic, he has been arrested, he has been captured. He will soon be transfer to the Netherlands. When? According to the Serbian president, who made the announcement, we don't know.

But when the trial of Ratko Mladic takes place at The Hague, how long will it take? How long will this process for justice be?

SHUBERT: Well, it's not going to be quick. I mean, already, Karadzic is still ongoing. They literally are going through hundreds of testimonies from witnesses, I believe, if not millions of documents that have already been produced, and it's quite stalled.

So this is not going to be a short process. But the point is it is justice being done. It may take a long time, but at least that process is on the way.

STOUT: Atika Shubert, on the story for us live from London.

Thank you, Atika.

Now, earlier, Lord Owen, a former U.N. envoy to Yugoslavia, told CNN what the capture and arrest of Ratko Mladic means throughout the former Yugoslavia and beyond.


LORD DAVID OWEN, FMR. U.N. ENVOY TO YUGOSLAVIA: Just has too long been delayed, but it's extremely good news for all those people, particularly the families and people massacred at Srebrenica. But a resolution is now likely.

I mean, we know that justice must be seen to be done, and you cannot judge people. But we do know of absolutely factual evidence of General Mladic's involvement in crimes that have already been judged by The Hague court involving his generals and President Milosevic. So there is no doubt that he is going to serve a prison sentence. The only question is exactly what crimes the court will indict him.

He will have to go to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.


OWEN: Largely because he is a hero for some of the soldiers in Serbia. And they and others have sheltered him for many, many years. And the government, I think, despite recently really trying to get him, they've not been able to do so.

But this is ending a chapter which hopefully will open a new chapter for Serbia, and I'm very pleased that it's happened.


STOUT: Now let me bring in Dr. James Ker-Lindsay. He is a Eurobank senior research fellow at the London School of Economics.

Thank you very much indeed for joining us here on CNN.

First, give us your reaction to the arrest of Ratko Mladic.

JAMES KER-LINDSAY, EUROBANK EFG SR. RESEARCH FELLOW, LSE: think this is tremendous news on all sorts of levels. I mean, obviously, it's an important day for all the victims of the horrific conflict that took place in Bosnia. But I think it's also an incredibly important day for Serbia.

The arrest of this man has been absolutely essential to Serbia's hopes of joining the European Union. There is still an outstanding issue of one further indicted war criminal, but I think the feeling has been Ratko Mladic was the person to get hold of. And I really think that this could totally transform Serbia's prospects now of joining the European Union.

STOUT: Now, is credit due to Serbian police authorities for his capture and arrest, or do you find fault in the fact that it took so long for him to be found?

KER-LINDSAY: Well, of course there's been all sorts of conspiracy theories that have been whirling around that he was under the protection of various senior authorities in the Serbian state apparatus. It's very difficult to know how much credibility to give to those statements.

Yes, it does sound very difficult, how he could evade capture for so very long. But, you know, even with the relatively small group of supporters who were willing to put him up, provide him with funds, he might have been able to duck down under the radar long enough. I think it's very difficult to say, but what really does matter is that I think in the past few years, we've seen a real willingness on the part of the Serbian government to arrest him, and obviously that's come to fruition today.

STOUT: Is there a danger that there could be a backlash from hard-line nationalists, supporters of Mladic who could plan to react against and protest against his extradition to the Netherlands?

KER-LINDSAY: Well, I mean, it's important to remember that for a lot of these people in Serbia, but also, as we recently saw with the conviction of Ante Gotovina, a Croatian and general who was recently convicted of war crimes by the ICTY in The Hague, you know, these people are still regarded by many people in the countries of the region as heroes, so to speak. So, yes, there is a possibility that some people will come out, but I think for the majority of Serbs, they will be relieved.

They know that this is a dark chapter in their history, and they will be looking to put it to one side. And I think President Tadic made that point this morning very clearly, that this is about reconciliation now, it's about coming to terms with what took place in the past. All the countries in the region must come to terms with this, and all the countries, all the -- must cooperate with the ICTY and the other tribunals that have been established.

STOUT: But could hard-line voices outweigh the voices for reconciliation and moving past this, and getting justice for what happened during the Balkan Wars, and complicate Serbia's application to be a member for the European Union?

KER-LINDSAY: Well, I mean, you know, there are hard-line voices in all of the countries of the region which have for all sorts of reasons -- sometimes it's just plain nationalism. Other times it's because people have, and understandably so, a very, very difficult job of trying to get beyond the past.

You know, these were very, very brutal wars that took place in the former Yugoslavia, and it was only 15 years ago that they really came to a name (ph). Less if you consider Kosovo.

So it really is to be expected there's going to be people who consider that reconciliation is still too early to come. But I think the important thing is that you're now seeing a range of political leaders in the region. I think we've seen this with President Tadic in Serbia, but also President Ivo Josipovic, especially, in Croatia, who desperately want to put the past to one side. Not forget about it.

You know, Serbia has passed a resolution acknowledging Srebrenica. But I think looking to the future and building up those relations. And I think that that is the important key thing at the moment. So I think a lot of people in the countries of the region do want to move on now.

STOUT: And when will justice be done?

KER-LINDSAY: Well, it's very difficult to say. I mean, we do have these top tier, if you like, indictees at the ICTY. There's one remaining name, and that's Goran Hadzic, who was the leader of the Serbian entity in Croatia who does still need to be apprehended.

But also, you know, there were a lot of people who committed atrocities, may not have been in the key leadership positions, but nevertheless have got to be brought to trial. We still have very, very serious allegations which have been brought against the prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, which I think Serbia -- President Tadic alluded to. And I think a lot of people feel those should be properly investigated and, if necessary, Mr. Thaci brought before a relevant court of law. But I think it's not a process that's over, but this is certainly a major, major development, and will hopefully help that process of reconciliation in the region.

STOUT: All right.

Dr. James Ker-Lindsay of the London School of Economics.

Thank you for making yourself available for this breaking news story. And thank you for sharing your insights with us.

Now, if you were just joining us, let's bring you up to date.

Some 16 years after the slaughter of thousands at Srebrenica, the search for the most wanted war crimes suspect of the Balkans conflict is over. Former Bosnian-Serb military commander Ratko Mladic has been arrested.

Now, Mladic was indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in 1995. The 69-year-old face charges of genocide, extermination, and murder of civilians related to atrocities committed during the four years of civil war.

The 1992 to 1995 Bosnian War was the longest of the wars spawned by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Now, Serbia had offered a $14 million reward for the capture of Mladic, knowing that the country not qualify for EU membership without his arrest.

Now, Serbian President Boris Tadic said in the last hour, in live comments here on CNN, that he hopes Mladic's arrest will help the process of reconciliation throughout the Balkans.

We will continue to follow this breaking news story for you here.

And also ahead on NEWS STREAM, violence in Yemen is escalating dramatically as the president dismisses all calls for him to step down.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, after almost 16 years on the run, former Bosnian-Serb military commander Ratko Mladic has been arrested. Now, he was the highest-ranking war crimes suspect still at large from the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. And Mladic faces charges of genocide, extermination and murder form the International Criminal tribunal of the former Yugoslavia. Among the crimes the 69-year-old is accused of, the slaughter of close to 8,000 men and boys following the siege of Srebrenica in 1995.

Serbian President Boris Tadic today said Mladic was detained in Serbia. He hopes the arrest will help the process of reconciliation throughout the Balkans.

Turning now to Yemen, where the country's Defense Ministry says 28 people have been killed in an explosion at an ammunition storage facility in the capital, Sanaa. Witnesses say that there have been gunshots and shelling, and the clashes are spreading.

Now, the flare-up follows weeks of tensions between anti-government forces and supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On Sunday, Mr. Saleh again walked out of a deal to give up power, and now Washington is worried. It is ordering all nonessential diplomats and their families out of the country, and has warned Americans not to travel there.

Now, despite the unrest, President Saleh says he won't give in. And he is accusing the opposition of trying to drag the country into civil war.

Mohammed Jamjoom is following events for us from CNN Abu Dhabi.

Mohammed, you have some new developments to tell us.


We're just hearing, as you mentioned, from a senior Defense Ministry official in Sanaa that there was a weapons depot in Yemen's capital city that was bombed earlier today. As a result of that, 28 people killed.

Now, the Defense Ministry official is laying blame for this squarely at the heels of the al-Hashid tribe. Government forces have been battling the al- Hashid tribe, their tribesmen, for going on three days now in the capital city. Those clashes have been escalating and spreading throughout the city.

Now, the al-Hashid tribe, a spokesman for them tells us that they had nothing to do with this, but this was government forces shelling that area, they caused the explosion. And they say that as far as the al-Hashid tribesmen, they're very careful when they pick their targets. They're just trying to defend themselves.

The situation there really deteriorating. People on the ground in Yemen, eyewitnesses and residents in neighborhoods where clashes are happening, have been telling me that the situation is getting far more volatile. A lot of international pressure stepped up on President Saleh to resign, to keep to his commitments to sign a power transfer deal. He's saying this is an internal matter for Yemen.

Here's more of what he had to say yesterday to reporters.


ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, YEMENI PRESIDENT (through translator): We do not want for the Yemeni cause to be international. This is an internal affair, and all political parties in Yemen should engage in dialogue. The solution is in their hands, not to come from the outside.


JAMJOOM: And Kristie, from the response of Western officials in Yemen I've been speaking with, this just simply isn't going to do it. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.K. prime minister, so many people, have been putting pressure on Saleh to go ahead and sign this deal to make sure that this situation in Yemen calms down. But Saleh right now seems as defiant as ever, says he's not going to sign this deal, he's going to remain in power -- Kristie.

STOUT: It seems like as the security threat level goes up, he still refuses to step down.

Mohammed Jamjoom, joining us live.

Thank you very much for that.

Let's turn now to the G-8 meeting under way in France. With China and India on the rise, the group's legitimacy is under scrutiny. But the group that ostensibly represents the world's richest nations has plenty to talk about as it gathers in the French town of Deauville. Now, on the agenda, the Arab Spring, the war in Libya, and debt in the U.S. and Europe.

Now, we will continue to follow our big breaking news story this hour. Again, the capture and arrest of former Bosnian-Serb military commander Ratko Mladic.

We're also tracking the severe weather across the United States. We have seen tornadoes in the Midwest. And ahead, we have the latest on the damage and the survivors.


STOUT: Live from Hong Kong, you are back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, a reminder of our main story this hour, the capture and arrest of the Balkans most wanted man, the former Bosnian-Serb army leader Ratko Mladic. Now, Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed the news at a press conference one hour ago.

Mladic stands accused of genocide and crimes against civilians, including rape and torture. Now, Serbia had offered a $14 million reward for the fugitive's capture, knowing that the country could not qualify for EU membership without his arrest. And like former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic before him, Mladic was tracked down in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

We will continue to follow that story for you.


STOUT: Now, still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, we have more on the big arrest in the Balkans. The former leader of the Bosnian-Serb army, Ratko Mladic, has been captured. We'll give you all the background to this breaking story, next.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, you're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

Our top story this hour, the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the highest ranking war crimes suspect still at large after the Balkans war has been captured. Now Mladic was indicted by the UN back in 1995 accused of war crimes, including genocide. Now here is the moment serving president Boris Tadic broke the news.


BORIS TADIC, PRESIDENT OF SERBIA: On behalf of the Republic of Serbia I announce that today we arrested Ratko Mladic. Extradition process is underway. This is the result of full cooperation of Serbia with a hatred (ph) tribunal. We have always believed in our strategy and the work of everyone involved in this process.


STOUT: Now the United States is ordering all its non-essential diplomats in Yemen to leave as violence in the country escalates. Now anger is growing at President Saleh's repeated refusal to step down from power. Eyewitnesses say 51 people were killed in clashes between government forces and (inaudible) overnight. And a government official says 28 people were killed in an explosion at a weapons storage site.

Now U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Deauville, France following a two day visit to London. Now he is attending the G8 summit of leaders from some of the world's wealthiest countries. Mr. Obama is scheduled to have meetings with the Russia president Dmitry Medvedev and Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Electronics giant Sony has reported a $3.1 billion net loss for its last fiscal year. Now Sony says it is an expected onetime loss tied to deferred tax assets. Now the company forecasts a return to profit in the year ahead. And the company has been hit hard by a personal identity hacker and the Japanese earthquake.

Now Marek Marczynski is the head of Amnesty International's international justice team. He's done research on Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Croatia, Slovenia. He joins us now live from CNN London. Thank you for joining us. And please give us your reaction to the breaking news story, the arrest of Rotka Mladic.

MAREK MARCZYNSKI, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Of course this is great news for all of us. And definitely it's a great day for all victims of those horrible crimes which were committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia. Many of us didn't actually expect that to happen and that's why I'm so delighted to be here to actually witness that together with you and to celebrate. I'm sure that many victims will also share this with us.

Definitely Rotka Mladic is a symbol of a atrocities which were committed during the war of the -- in the former Yugoslavia. He was indicted for crimes committed in Srebrenik as well as in other places, crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

But what's really important is that on this particular day we also remember about the remaining person who was also indicted by the high tribunal, Goran Hadzic. And that we don't forget about the fact that he's still at- large.

We should also keep in mind that the tribunal should be given enough resources and political support to be able to complete the prosecution of Rotka Mladic as well as Goran Hadzic when he's arrested.

Another thing we should keep in mind is that actually the majority of the perpetrators, because of course Rotka Mladic is just one of theme, maybe the most important one, but only one of them -- the majority of them need to be prosecuted by the domestic judiciary in Serbia. And we should keep in mind that the justice system in Serbia still lacks political support to conduct those important investigations.

This support is needed not only Serbia, it's of course needed in other countries of the former Yugoslavia and the lack of political will, despite this fact that we are witnesses today, is still the main thing that prevents many victims of those terrible crimes from accessing justice.

So, I think this is our short comment. And we should always keep in mind that here are many measures that should still be taking into considerations to bring justice to all victims of all crimes which were committed in the former Yugoslavia.

STOUT: So Amnesty International welcomes the news of the arrest of Rotka Mladic. You're also saying that -- and reminding the world -- that another war crimes suspect is still at-large, Goran Hadzic. And that all the perpetrators should be held accountable.

Could you tell us more about the significance of this arrest of Rotka Mladic. He led the attack against Srebrenica. How many lives is he responsible for taking?

MARCZYNSKI: Well, this is something that has to be established by the court, but the indictment says about 8,000 men who were killed in Srebrenica, mostly men who were targeted only because they were mostly Muslim.

We are also aware of at least several incidents of crimes of sexual nature, gender based violence which was committed in Srebrenica when the men were killed. So we would also want to see this being prosecuted either in The Hague or somewhere else, for example, in Serbia.

Many thousands, actually, of victims and their families are still waiting to find out about the whereabouts of their beloved ones. So we are talking about a very large-scale of crime is probably the biggest crime that was committed in Europe after the Second World War. It's a crime which was defined as genocide. And there is no doubt about that.

The question now that The Hague has to deal with is what was exactly the responsibility of Rokta Mladic for this particular crime.

STOUT: Now were you or any of your colleagues at Amnesty International able to speak with the victims of the brutal conflict in the Balkans and their reaction to the news?


Of course, victims have been waiting for this moment for the last 15 years and more. So I guess there is a general atmosphere of celebration, especially in Bosnia. It's -- it's definitely just the first step for them to see justice. Victims should not only see justice, but in the criminal sense, but they're also waiting for access to reparations which is much broader than just criminal justice.

Many of them, live in poverty, many of them were expelled from their houses, many of them are still waiting to come back to their places of origin. So this is something which has to be addressed. There is an outstanding problem of actually providing those victims with jobs. It's an outstanding problem with providing many of those victims with psychological support, because they suffered trauma during those even 16 years ago. And this trauma actually continues until today.

So as I said, in just -- it's a very welcoming step. We are very happy that -- about this happened, but it's just the first step on a very long way to justice.

And the thing which is very important to mention in this situation is that this arrest happened under heavy pressure from the international community. This arrest happened because the European Union and other international actors have been pushing for that for a number of years. So we encourage them to continue doing that, exacting pressure on the authorities in Serbia, in Bosnia, and in Croatia so that they deal with the past in the way that is satisfactory.

STOUT: All right, Marek Marczynski of Amnesty International, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN.

And if you were just joining us, let's bring you up to date. Now some 16 years after the slaughter of thousands at Srebrenica, the search for the most wanted war crimes suspect of the Balkans is over. Now former Bosnian- Serb military commander Rotka Mladic has been arrested. Mladic was indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal in 1995. The 69-year- old faces charges of genocide, extermination, and murder of civilians related to atrocities committed during the four years of civil war.

The 1992-1995 Bosnian war was the longest of the war's spawned by the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early '90s.

Now Serbia had offered a $14 million reward of the capture of Mladic knowing that the country could not qualify for EU membership without his arrest. The Serbian president Boris Tadic said today that he hopes Mladic's arrest will help the process of reconciliation throughout the Balkans.

Now one of the most visible figures on the American side of this conflict was James Rubin. Now he was the assistant secretary of State under President Clinton and he briefed reporters daily on the conflict. And just a few minutes ago, he talked to CNN. And he points to Srebrenica as the key moment that turned around American opinion.


JAMES RUBIN, FRM. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was the spokesman in the State Department shortly after his indictment and we used to be regularly questioned by members of the media quite aggressively. You know, when are you going to get this guy? And how come he's still at large? And the guidance I received from the government, the secretary of State, was his day will come.

Well his day has finally come. It's a little late, I guess, but it's...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why now? Is it political?

RUBIN: I think it is political, but political in a good way, in the sense that Serbia has gone through an evolution over this last decade. And they've realized that being outside of the mainstream of Europe, being, you know, a pariah kind of country was bad for them. And so slowly, slowly they've worked their way through.

First, they captured Karadzic, the President of -- for Mladic, the person he reported to. And now Mladic. And he really is the symbol now that President Milosevic from Serbia has died in the prison in The Hague, he's really the symbol of this terrible massacre you were talking about, the one that in many ways provoked the west to act.

As it was in '95 when President Clinton, who had frankly not been willing to push the Europeans into action before that finally decided enough is enough, this massacre occurred and he gathered together his European colleagues and the airstrikes were conducted that brought peace to Bosnia, ended the war, stopped the siege and stopped thousands more people who would have surely died.


STOUT: Now still ahead here on NEWS STREAM, we will continue to follow this big, breaking news story this hour. The capture of former Bosnia-Serb military commander Rotka Mladic.

And in Syria, with foreign journalists banned from the country we will look at how amateur video is helping to communicate the country's alleged atrocities to the world.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now after almost 16 years on the run, former Bosnia-Serb military commander Rokta Mladic has been arrested. Now he was the highest ranking war crime suspect still at large after the Balkan conflict at the 1990s. Mladic was twice indicted by the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accused of crimes including genocide.

Now the most notorious crime associated with him was the slaughter of close to 8,000 Muslim men and boys following the siege of Srebrenica in 1995.

Now let's turn to Syria. European countries on the UN Security Council, they want to send a strong message condemning the crackdown on anti- government protests. France, Germany, Britain, and Portugal will meet with other Security Council members about a draft resolution. It condemns what is described as, quote, "the systematic violation of human rights."

As international anger grows over Syria's suppression of anti-government protests, more evidence has emerged of state brutality. Now with CNN currently not allowed in the country, our Arwa Damon is following developments from Beirut. And she joins us now -- Arwa.


And it is through videos that opposition activists upload to YouTube that we are able to get at least a glimpse of what is happening inside Syria, even though in many cases we cannot verify the authenticity -- independently verify the authenticity of those videos. But most certainly at this stage in the uprising, it does seem as if those videos uploaded to YouTube are the most powerful tool the opposition has.


DAMON: These shocking images emerged on YouTube in April and were broadcast by CNN and other international outlets following a crackdown and mass arrest of demonstrators in Al Bayda, evidence activists said, of the Syria regime's ruthless tactics.

The government at the time claimed the footage was fake and was shot outside of Syria. So activists launched their own video offensive to prove it was authentic.

This clip, uploaded a few days later, shows a sign that says Al Bayda. A voice says, this is the beginning of Bayda Village. The drive into the village is filmed unedited. A minute-and-a-half later we see a square and hear a voice saying the footage was from here. As the camera swivels around, it is clearly the same place.

The man in the forefront seen stomped on, beaten, and then kicked in the face was also filmed a few days later after his release standing in the same square, holding his ID card and stating his name, Ahmed Bayessi (ph). He explains how Syrian forces rounded the men up and detailed the beating and curses.

Activists say Bayessi (ph) detained again shortly afterwards.

With CNN and other foreign media prevented from reporting inside Syria, the videos that appear on YouTube are just about the only way that protesters can show the outside world what is happening inside Syria. We still cannot independently verify many of the videos, but opposition activists are taking fresh risks to corroborate their claims.

And to refute the Syrian government's claim that it is only targeting armed extremist groups intent on sowing unrest.

In this clip uploaded last Friday a voice says they are firing lethal rounds and then quickly states the date and location -- May 20th, 2011, Hama.

And here the video shooter displays a newspaper with the day's date and states Daraa as his location before panning over to show military transports and tents supporting opposition claims that Daraa remains under siege.

This clip starts with a side of a fire truck reading Hama Fire Brigade to corroborate the location before moving over to show shocking images of a man being brutally beaten.

If Egypt was dubbed the Facebook revolution, then Syria is perhaps becoming the YouTube revolution. Even as using social media becomes more difficult and more dangerous. It is their last window to the world.


DAMON: And Kristie, what is also very evident when we do look at those images and the angle from which they are being filmed is that opposition activists are taking grave risks to their own lives to try to get the word out -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right. Arwa Damon staying firmly on this story. Thank you very much indeed Arwa.

We will have more after the break on the arrest of Rotka Mladic. Keep it here for more NEWS STREAM.


STOUT: Welcome Back.

Now a reminder of our main story this hour, the capture and arrest of the Balkan's most wanted man, the former Bosnian-Serb army leader Rotka Mladic. Now Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed the news at a press conference one hour ago. Mladic stands accused of genocide and crimes against civilians including rape and torture. Now Serbia had offered a $14 million reward for the fugitive's capture knowing that the country could not qualify for EU membership without his arrest.

Like former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic before him, Mladic was tracked down in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

Now let's get some reaction to Mladic's arrest from inside Serbia itself where the former Bosnian-Serb commander was detained.

Now early Zain Vergee spoke to a journalist in Belgrade.


DEJAN ANASTASLIEVIC, JOURNALIST: So far actually everybody is still reeling from the news. It's rather very, very fresh news. It's been about an hour since the first rumors appeared. And then about half an hour ago we got official confirmation by President Tadic. But so far nobody has yet time to react.

ZAIN VERGEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How could have been hiding in Belgrade under the noses of the security establishment there? Is that a question that people in Belgrade ask? Or do they not really care?

ANASTASLIEVIC: Well, previous governments which came after Milosevic were not really seriously interested in arrested Mladic possibly because of the backlash and because of -- a lot of reasons.

Since this government came to power in 2008 they did harness all they could trying to find him, but he was a very difficult man to find among other people's because there are indications that at least for a while, elements of security agencies were supporting him and protecting him.

VERGEE: Is it possible that there could be some kind of backlash after we got the news of his arrest? A backlash in Serbia?

ANASTASLIEVIC: It is highly unlikely there will be any serious backlash. There were small protests when Milosevic was arrested and delivered to The Hague, even smaller although violent protests, when Radovan Karadzic, the Balkan Serb leader was arrested and departed.

I think the protests, if there are against Rotka Mladic will be even smaller.

VERGEE: Do most Serbs want to join the European Union and really did see Rotka Mladic still being out on the loose as a stumbling block to what they wanted. How do they see that?

ANASTASLIEVIC: I think a great majority of Serbs who do want to join European Union are very aware that Mladic was a precondition for Serbia becoming a candidate in then actually a member of the EU. So many of them will actually be relieved that this obstacle is no longer here now. Although, privately probably some people still have doubts about Mladic's guilt.


STOUT: One man who has followed this story exceptionally closely is Lord David Owen, a former EU envoy to the former Yugoslavia. He joins me now live from Central London. And please give us your thoughts on the significance of this arrest.

Hello Lord Owen, it's Kristie in Hong Kong. Can you please give us your reaction to the arrest of Rotka Mladic.

DAVID OWEN, FORMER EU ENVOY TO YUGOSLAVIA: Hello? Hello, I'm afraid I'm going to have to...

STOUT: Can you hear me, it's Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Can you hear me? Can you give us your reaction to the news?

OWEN: Well, I am delighted that this man is now going to be tried in The Hague. General Mladic has a very heavy responsibility for what was a tragedy in Bosnia-Herzegovina for many years, but particularly for the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim males, which has already be judged to be a genocide and for which many generals under his command have already being found guilty in The Hague.

STOUT: Is credit due to Serbian authorities for leading up to this moment, the capture of Rotka Mladic? And should this be easing Serbia's entry into the European Union?

OWEN: Yes. They do deserve credit and particularly President Tadic. And he has been very strong on this issue. And he is always understood, too, that there would be no EU speeded up entry into the European Union until General Mladic was apprehended and was in The Hague. So I expect to see him in The Hague very soon. And I think that justice will then be done and not before time.

STOUT: And why is it that (inaudible), Rotka Mladic -- excuse me Radovan Karadzic was arrested, but that Rotka Mladic was able to elude capture for so long, for 16 years?

OWEN: Well, he was first of all protected by his own soldiers who were ready to lay down their lives for him. And that's one of the reasons why NATO didn't move as strongly on him as I think they should have done after the date and agreement in 1995. Then he went to Serbia and the Serbian government protected him and intelligence people and others were obstructing, but there was not the will of the government. It was not really until this present administration in Belgrade came in that he is under serious threat of being arrested and it's to their credit that they have done this.

But we should not forget this period of history. We should not forget that it was the reluctance and the refusal, indeed, of the western powers to enforce three successive peace settlements in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the so- called Vance-Owen peace plan, the EU action plan and the contact group plan. Had any of those three settlements been enforced there would have been no massacre at Srebrenica. And we need to remember that.

And when people question now going in to save the people of Benghazi, they should recognize that we can just sit back idly by and watch terrible tragedies still in this world and there is a justification for world judged military intervention to tilt the balance of forces, particularly from the air when there's already fighting going on the ground and people are trying to achieve their freedom and liberation.

STOUT: Lord David Owen, a former EU envoy, thank you very much indeed for joining us here on NEWS STREAM. Lord Owen just then drawing a line between that massacre in Srebrenica and the events currently underway in Libya.

And before I leave you this hour, let me quickly recap our top story. Again, Serbian president Boris Tadic has confirmed the capture of Rotka Mladic, the most wanted war crime suspect still at large after the Balkans conflict of the 1990s. Now Mladic is accused of genocide and crimes against civilians including rape and torture.

Now Serbia had offered a $14 million reward for his capture, knowing that the country could not qualify for EU membership without his arrest.

Now 16 years after the slaughter, the search is over.

Now we will continue to follow this story in the hours to come. So do stay with CNN.