MOMBASA, Kenya, (Reuters) – Kenyan police released yesterday a tourist operator wrongly suspected of being the fugitive Bosnian Serbian military commander Ratko Mladic.
Police on Thursday arrested the man — who had run a water sports business for years near the Indian Ocean coast city of Mombasa — on suspicion of war crimes in former Yugoslavia.
Colleagues at the Whitesands hotel, where he worked, were astonished at the detention of Igor Majeski, a Croatian in his 60s who had lived in Kenya for about two decades.
When international police body Interpol said fingerprint and other checks confirmed he was not Mladic, 67, police freed him without charge from custody in Mombasa.
In a statement concluding the saga, Kenyan police explained that their subject “bears very close resemblance” to Mladic.
But “forensic investigators through Interpol have conclusively established that the person arrested is not Mr Ratko Mladic but a Croatian national holding a valid passport and work permit,” it said.
“He is running a legal tourism business in Kenya’s South Coast.”
Mladic, who has been indicted for genocide, is one of two fugitives on the run from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague
The other is Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, wanted for crimes against humanity.
Whitesands manager Mohammed Hersi told Reuters he was shocked when Majeski was picked up.
“He has been operating his water sports company for over 25 years. When he first came here, he had the right papers and was given space to operate on those grounds,” he said.
Reuters TV footage, taken in January 2008 for a story on tourism in the area, shows Majeski standing in shorts and T-shirt outside his water sports shop on the beachfront.
He gave an interview openly from his desk.
Other workers at the hotel described him as a jovial man who mingled easily with tourists and others.
Kenyan police have made a number of high-profile wrong arrests in recent years, including a supposed mastermind of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.