Serbia’s police detain activist over war crimes protest

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The Serbian police late on Tuesday briefly detained a local opposition activist after she threw eggs at a downtown Belgrade wall painting of Ratko Mladic, a convicted war criminal and the wartime commander of Bosnian Serbs.

A video posted on an Instagram profile showed plainclothes men who identified themselves as police officers, whisking away Aida Corovic, after she threw eggs at the wall painting depicting Mladic saluting and wearing his officer’s cap.

“This outrage tonight is the face of (Serbia’s President) Aleksandar Vucic’s regime,” the Belgrade-based N1 TV quoted Corovic as saying after she was released from a local precinct.

Corovic’s detention prompted protests by dozens of opposition and leftist activists and riot police cordoned off the area near the building with the mural.

The Serbian opposition has frequently criticised Vucic, a former nationalist who later adopted pro-European policies, as well as his allies, of autocracy, stifling media freedoms, attacks on opposition, corruption and ties with organised crime. Vucic and his allies have denied that.

In a statement, Serbia’s Interior Ministry said the police were enforcing public order and an earlier ban on all public gatherings related to the wall painting of Mladic.

“Henceforth, identification of all persons regardless of their views about the mural depicting Gen. Ratko Mladic is being made,” it said.

Mladic, 78, led Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war and was convicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal for genocide and war crimes, including the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995. read more

But many in Serbia, a candidate for membership in the European Union, including some prominent politicians, still see Mladic as a hero of the war in which more than 100,000 people died.

In 2010, Serbia’s 250-seat parliament adopted a declaration condemning the Srebrenica massacre.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade Editing by Matthew Lewis

Photo – Plain clothes police officers detain human rights activist Aida Corovic at the site of the mural depicting former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic in Belgrade, Serbia. EPA-EFE/ANDREJ CUKIC

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