I'm proud of father's role in Bosnian war – Mladic son

The Hague tribunal judge has shown bias even before the Ratko Mladic trial began on Wednesday, the former Serbian general’s son Darko told RT. He says his father was simply trying to protect his nation during the Bosnian war.

Mladic is accused of genocide and war crimes against Muslims.

RT: Darko, you are the son of a man who is standing trial for genocide, war crimes and other serious offences, but you know another side to this story. Do you think he will ever see freedom again?

DM: Well, we are going to fight for his freedom with every means we have. The accusations against him are very tough and we think that is wrong. A lot of these charges are actually produced by war propaganda from the start of the war and unfortunately they have managed to endure in the media, in diplomacy for a very long time. Although we have a difficult situation here, we are all doing our best to help him to deny this lie.

RT: Several of Ratko's subordinates have already been found guilty. How can your father be innocent?

DM: I do not know about those proceedings since I am not a lawyer and I did not follow other trials, so I cannot comment on that. I can comment on my father since I know who he is. As you can imagine because you are working in the media, in this case there are two Ratko Mladics: one is the Ratko Mladic – media product, which is far away from the real Ratko Mladic I know. So, being his son and somebody who knows him, I am perfectly confident that he is not guilty.

RT: Western media have labeled your father the Butcher of Bosnia, a similar label they put on Radovan Karadzic. Do think that black media PR can impact the judges' impartiality?

DM: Well, I hope it will not. But as you might know, the defense team has already filed a motion to disqualify the presiding judge, since they think he has already shown some bias in this case. Regarding the media story: it's funny how 20 years after these events happened, the same things that had been launched in the media – genocide, hundreds of thousands dead and so on – live another day in the western media, although sources are already providing a very different picture. During these 20 years, the media – especially from those [countries] deeply involved on the other side, helping them and waging a war against us – still stick to their story, talking about genocide in 1992 – which is even before everything happened. I suspect that these allegations had been produced even before the war started.

RT: There is a wider belief though it has not been proved yet that your father is directly responsible for the Srebrenica massacre, and that he masterminded this massacre which took the lives of about 8,000 people. Who can prove the opposite? Are there means to prove the opposite?

DM: I hope there are. But since we have a lot of power against us, it will be a difficult task.

RT: You father's trial also coincides with the one of Radovan Karadzic, your father's former chief and a close ally once. He is of course accused of identical crimes. For many it would look like a show trial over the two men but how much guilt do they carry really?

DM: I cannot comment on Radovan Karadzic, but I am proud of my father's role in the Bosnian war, not because I think that he is guilty of anything but because he was doing his job in this war. The primary objective of this war was to protect our people from being exposed to genocide again. I must remind you if you don’t know: the Serbian people were the people who suffered from genocide in WWII – from the fascists and from all the sides. And in the Balkan war, the media portray us as fascists and perpetrators of genocide. This inversion for me is a terrible attack on the truth, because all we did was to defend ourselves against being exposed to genocide again. My father succeeded in this task, and I'm proud of his role in the war. If I had any suspicion that he is guilty of some of these charges I would not stand by him.

RT: There is a belief that Serbian authorities actually allowed Mladic to stay at large in Serbia for almost 16 years after the tribunal’s indictment. What happened? Has he lost the support of the powerful people that could be helping him to avoid detention?

DM: No, I cannot agree with you. The situation is complicated and it is too difficult to answer in such a short time. But I think that the only firm support that my father has had is within the Serbian people.

RT: Critics point out that the tribunal has never issued an indictment for NATO officials involved in Balkan wars. Is that a fair claim?

DM: It's obvious for me that NATO was a side in the conflict with media, diplomatic and military support. And with direct military engagement at the end of the war. So, unfortunately, they are siding a conflict and probably they have some joint plans with the other side in this conflict, but as you see the tribunal is not interested in investigating any of these plans.

RT: It is no secret to anyone that your father's arrest was a turning point in Serbia's bid to join the EU this year. Ten months later, the European Council granted Serbia official candidate status for EU membership. Do you think your father was a pawn in Serbia's political game?

DM: No, I don't think he was a pawn. He was probably some kind of tool for pressure over Serbia, but Serbia's problems would not be solved with his extradition. This was actually a false dilemma.

RT: I'm going to ask you a question and if you can please answer me "yes" or "no": do you think you father will get a fair trial?

DM: (smiles) I hope he will get a fair trial but we had a different experience with UN envoys during the war. I hope that they will live up to the standards they are claiming they have. But I would like to remind you that recently Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg (Norway's former Foreign minister, in 1993 served as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the former Yugoslavia – ed.) gave an interview in which he said regarding the Bosnian war that mediators had to be against the Serbs, looking the other way for Croats and helping the Muslims (to avoid criticism – ed.). So, if this is the definition of impartiality, I fear that impartiality of this kind will not lead to a fair trial. So, I cannot answer you with "yes" or "no" (laughs).