An ex-bodyguard of Bosnian Serb genocide suspect Ratko Mladic gave a Belgrade court details Tuesday about the former wartime chief’s last known movements before he went underground.
Branislav Puhalo told the district court that Serbian state authorities at the time gave 50 armed security guards orders to protect Mladic, who was able to move freely throughout Serbia’s capital.
Armed with anti-tank rocket launchers, the unit was established under the regime of late president Slobodan Milosevic in 1997 and only disbanded in March 2002, almost a year and a half after democratic forces overthrew Milosevic.
“Everything was legal,” Puhalo told the court, according to Beta news agency.
“Mladic moved freely in Belgrade during 2001. We went to football matches, to MUP (the interior ministry), to restaurants” and slept at Belgrade’s Topcider military barracks, he added.
Puhalo was giving evidence in the trial of 10 suspects charged with aiding and sheltering Mladic in the full knowledge he was wanted for war crimes. The defendants deny the charges.
Former Bosnian Serb general Mladic has been on the run since late 1995, when the Bosnian war ended. He has been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal on charges including genocide for ordering the Srebrenica massacre of about 8,000 Muslims men and boys in July 1995.
He is widely thought to be hiding in Serbia, where authorities say they lost trace of his whereabouts in late 2005.