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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Serbs Fire Indicted General Mladic

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander indicted for war crimes, has been sacked, according to a statement released early Saturday by the Bosnian Serb president.

The statement read over state television said that Biljana Plavsic, elected president of the Bosnian Serb entity in September, had decided to replace Mladic with Major General Pero Colic.

Plavsic thanked Mladic for all he had done for Bosnian Serbs during the 3 1/2-year war but because of the international community's stance towards him, she said he must step down.

"I am extremely sorry'' to have to replace Mladic "because of the known stand of a part of the international community against him,'' said Plavsic's statement also carried by the official Bosnian Serb Srna news agency.

"I have to thank him and his general staff for all they have done for the Serb people during the war,'' the statement added.

Mladic led the Bosnian Serb army throughout the war and was the most popular figure among the Bosnian Serbs. He was indicted in November 1995 by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for atrocities.

The Dayton peace accord bars war crimes suspects from holding public office. Mladic and Radovan Karadzic -- the Bosnian Serbs' civilian wartime leader who has also been indicted by the tribunal -- are out of sight, but have not been arrested.

Mladic personally commanded several Bosnian Serb military actions, including the onslaught on the eastern Moslem enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, in which up to 6,000 Moslems are believed to have been massacred and were buried in mass graves in the region. He also reportedly masterminded the 3 1/2-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and its relentless shelling.

Colic, 58, was a major during the war and was based in the region of Banja Luka in the 1st Krajina Corps. Colic, who is not generally well known, was made general last year.

Plavsic said she chose Colic because he "has a clear vision for the reorganization'' of the Bosnian Serb army which will "protect the territorial integrity'' of the Bosnian Serb entity

Plavsic also replaced the entire general staff, according to the statement, including Mladic's deputy, General Milan Gvero, and chief of staff General Manojlo Milovanovic. Both were believed to have very close ties with the Serb-led Yugoslav army and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Mladic is believed to still be in his mountain hideout in Han Pijesak, where he spends his days breeding bees and goats. He has reportedly suffered two strokes, according to independent Serb media.

The tribunal has issued an international arrest warrant for Mladic, but the NATO-led peace force, which is obligated to arrest war crimes suspects if it runs across them, has not so far made a move against him or Karadzic.

Over the past few months, there have been several signals that Plavsic, under pressure from the international community, would move against Mladic. Also, for the past two years, there has been an open clash between Mladic's camp and the Bosnian Serb civilian leadership, including Karadzic -- who tried several times to replace Mladic -- over the conduct of the war. Mladic supported an all-out offensive to wipe out the Moslems and was against any peace deal with the enemy.

Mladic and his general staff have resisted all previous attempts to oust him. It was unclear how they would react to Plavsic's decision Saturday.