Chasing the Mladic Story through Serbia and Bosnia

I spent a week covering the breaking news that Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic was finally captured after nearly 16 years on the run, in a village an hour north of Belgrade in the early morning of May 26. On assignment for The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune I had the interesting experience of running in the streets with stone-throwing hooligans (there really weren’t that many of them, it was less of a mess than a typical soccer match), hanging out in the small Vojvodina village of Lazarevo where Mladic was captured (see our article about the town here) and then with a few minutes notice renting a car and rushing to Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina with my colleague Matthew Brunwasser for a three-day story of the lessons learned from the forensic investigations in Bosnia as well as reactions to Mladic’s arrest. After getting back to Belgrade, we began another story about the current state of Serbian nationalism and a profile of 13-year old human rights activist Rastko Pocesta.

It was a busy week covering a story that all of us in the Balkans have been waiting to happen for years. I had to create a balance between working a few assignments, in what might be the last big Balkan story for years, and photographing what I need for my own long-term projects. There are some pictures that did not run in the paper that will work well for me, which makes the week worthwhile beyond the few images that did run in the paper.

Because of the story in Bosnia, I actually missed a chance to photograph the largest visual moment of this story, the large opposition protest in Belgrade on Sunday May 29. Andrew Testa made this dramatic image at the rally and my friend Andy Spyra was able to publish some great pictures from the day too. I at the time was driving through rural Bosnia, the old hills and roads where the war itself played out. I wish I could have been in Belgrade, but I’m proud that the story we found in Bosnia was published on the front page of the International Herald Tribune and add an important perspective and balance to the images coming out of Belgrade. Being able to contribute not only photographs but also ideas and editorial perspective to the NYTimes and IHT’s coverage of this story is very rewarding.

I’ll be publishing more images on my tumblr Only Unity, where I often play with images that aren’t showing up a elsewhere. Thanks again to Tala, Cornelius, Matt and the rest of the folks at IHT/NYT, was very good working with you all.