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Mladic Mural In Belgrade Defaced, Then Promptly Restored.

A mural of Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic that has been at the center of a tug-of-war between supporters and detractors of the convicted war criminal was defaced by unidentified protesters on November 15 only to be quickly restored.

The protesters threw a bucket of black paint at the mural early in the morning, but several hours later a group of six hooded youths cleaned the paint and partially repainted it. The youths told RFE/RL they were people "from the neighborhood."

No uniformed police were seen in the area.

Mladic, 79, led Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia's 1992-95 war and was convicted by a United Nations tribunal of war crimes, including the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995.

He is serving a life sentence, and his appeal of his 2017 conviction for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes was rejected by the tribunal, based in The Hague, in June.

But many in Serbia still see Mladic as a hero of the war, and his mural, which appeared on the facade of a building in central Belgrade one month after the war crimes court confirmed his conviction, has reignited passions among supporters and enemies of the man dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia.

Since then, the mural was targeted by paint throwers several times, and each time it was quickly returned it to its original state.

Last week, protesters gathered in central Belgrade in response to the arrest of two activists who threw eggs at the mural, but police cordoned the area off, preventing protesters from approaching the painting. Mladic supporters also staged a counterprotest. The two groups were separated by police and no incidents were reported.

The two activists, Aida Corovic and Jelena Jacimovic, were released after a brief detention.

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