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Ratko Mladic is a former Serbian military general who stands accused of genocide for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian War.
As Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's right-hand man, Mladic is most remembered as the fiery commander of the breakaway ethnic Serbian Republika Srpska's military during the 1995 massacre of at least 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the village of Srebrenica.
Mladic was born into a Communist family in Kalinovik, in what was then the independent state of Croatia, in March 1942, when the country was under Nazi control.
A lifelong Communist Party member, he joined the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) as a young man and slowly rose through the JNA's ranks, serving in commanding roles throughout the former Yugoslavia.
In August 1992, as the Yugoslavian federation was disintegrating, Mladic was rapidly promoted to brigadier general, in Sarajevo, the capital of the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
By that point, the republics of Slovenia and Croatia had already left the federation and there were clashes between ethnic Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
When Bosnia's ethnic Serbian parliament voted to create its own army, Mladic was immediately appointed its commander.
The Bosnian War, which waged from about April 1992 to December 1995, left over 100,000 dead and millions homeless.
For his central role in that war, the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has now charged Mladic with genocide and other war crimes. These charges include his part in the four-year siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since the Second World War.
According to several sources, Mladic had a strong antipathy towards Bosnian Muslims. He called them "the Turks" and was said to have sought revenge for what he felt was centuries of Ottoman rule over the Balkan region.
However, when Mladic and his troops invaded the Bosnian village of Srebrenica in July 1995, the Muslim refugees there had almost no weapons left to fight with. The city had been guarded by UN peacekeepers — first Canadians and then the Dutch — and its inhabitants were living under siege-like conditions with little food or running water.
The UN indictment says that over the course of 11 days, Mladic's forces rounded up thousands of men and boys as young as 12, executed and buried them in mass graves.
Hours before the massacre began, the general was seen giving candy to local children.
Less than two days after the massacre at Srebrenica ended, Mladic was indicted by the ICTY for genocide and other war crimes. Mladic fled to Serbia, where he lived in relative comfort, at least while former president Slobodan Milosevic was in power.
In 2001, after Milosevic's arrest and extradition to The Hague to face his own war crimes charges, Mladic went into hiding. It would take 10 more years before Serbian police finally arrested him on May 26, 2011 in the northern village of Lazarevo.
According to his lawyer, the 69-year old fugitive is too ill and frail to face trial. But the new Serbian government, which is seeking greater integration into Europe, extradited him quietly to The Hague anyway.
The Serbian government of President Boris Tadic has long been under pressure to arrest and hand over fugitives from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The fact that it took so long to capture Mladic and Radovan Karadzic — who was arrested in 2008 and is currently on trial as well — all but stalled Serbia's efforts to integrate into Europe.
With Mladic now in custody, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Serbia to be allowed to join the European Union.
But even as Serbia tries to shed its black sheep status in the European community, support for Mladic and his style of ethnic nationalism remains quite high.
Many still view the former general as a sort of folk hero. At least 7,000 Serbian nationalists showed that support by demonstrating in the streets of Belgrade shortly after Mladic's arrest.
Also, before he boarded the plane, Serbian authorities allowed him one last visit to the grave of his daughter Ana, who is reported to have taken her own life in 1994 at the height of the siege of Sarajevo.
It was a luxury, his critics said, that few of the families of his alleged victims enjoyed.