|Ratko Mladic is charged with genocide by a UN court.|
BELGRADE — The family of Europe’s most-wanted fugitive, Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Ratko Mladic, is seeking to have him declared officially dead but authorities said yesterday that the hunt for the genocide suspect will continue.
Mladic’s family lawyer Milos Saljic said he would submit a motion to the Serbian courts this month arguing that the former Bosnian Serb Army commander is in poor health and has not been seen in years.
The move appears designed to undermine efforts by Serbia’s pro-Western authorities to locate Mladic, who has been on the run since 1995 and whose arrest is crucial for Serbia’s bid to become a member of the European Union.
“The family has decided to stop the agony because it has long been convinced that General Mladic is no longer alive,’’ Saljic told the Associated Press by telephone. “No one has seen him for seven years.’’
Bruno Vekaric, deputy Serbian war crimes prosecutor who is with the team searching for Mladic, dismissed the family’s initiative as “speculation.’’
“We are continuing with our job in order to fulfill Serbia’s international obligations,’’ Vekaric said.
Mladic was charged with genocide by the UN court in The Hague for allegedly orchestrating the 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica and other atrocities during the Bosnian war.
UN court officials believe Mladic is hiding in Serbia, where he enjoys support among nationalist hard-liners who consider him a war hero.