Ratko Mladic convicted of genocide, gets life in prison

The UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found Mladic guilty of 10 of 11 charges, including the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 civilians were killed by shelling, mortar and sniper fire
People attach banners to the fence before the trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic – Photo: Michael Kooren/REUTERS
22/11/2017
14:42
Reuters
The Hague
Toby Sterling, Stephanie van den Berg, Anthony Deutsch
-A +A

On Wednesday, a United Nations (UN) tribunal convicted ex-Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres of Bosnian Muslims and ethnic cleansing campaigns to forge a “Greater Serbia”, and jailed him for life.

Mladic was hustled out of the court minutes before the verdict for angrily shouting, “This is all lies, you are all liars!” The outburst occurred after Mladic returned to the courtroom from what his lawyers described as a visit to the bathroom, then a blood pressure test which held up proceedings.

The UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Mladic guilty of 10 of 11 charges, including the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 civilians were killed by shelling, mortar and sniper fire.

The killings in Srebrenica of men and boys after they were separated from women and taken away in buses or marched off to be shot amounted to Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

“The crimes committed rank among the most heinous known to humankind, and include genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity,” Presiding Judge Alphons Orie said in reading out a summary of the judgment.

“Many of these men and boys were cursed, insulted, threatened, forced to sing Serb songs and beaten while awaiting their execution,” he said.

Mladic had pleaded not guilty to all charges. His legal team said he would appeal against the verdict.

genocide.jpg
Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic – Photo: Petar Kujundzic/REUTERS
 

Called the “Butcher of Bosnia” by survivors of his actions, Mladic was the most notorious of 163 ICTY indictees together with Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb nationalist leader and political mastermind of ethnic cleansing, and their patron, then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

The tribunal found Mladic “significantly contributed” to the genocide committed in Srebrenica with the goal of destroying its Muslim population, “personally directed” the bombardment of Sarajevo and was part of a “joint criminal enterprise” aimed at purging Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats from Bosnia.

Prosecutors said the ultimate agenda of Mladic, Karadzic and Milosevic was what came to be known worldwide as ethnic cleansing, to carve out an Orthodox “Greater Serbia” in the ashes of multinational federal Yugoslavia.

ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz called the verdict “a milestone” in holding Mladic accountable not just for massacres but the detention of tens of thousands of non-Serbs in camps where many were beaten and raped, and the forced displacement of over one million to remake Bosnia’s demographic map.

The Mladic case is the last major decision by the ICTY, which plans to close its doors soon after sentencing 83 Balkan war criminals since opening in 1993.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein called Mladic the “epitome of evil” and said his conviction after 16 years as an indicted fugitive and five years of trial was a “momentous victory for justice”.

“Today’s verdict is a warning to the perpetrators of such crimes that they will not escape justice, no matter how powerful they may be nor how long it may take,” Zeid said in a statement.

Mladic is still seen as a national hero by some compatriots for the swift capture of much of Bosnia after its Serbs rose up against an early 1992 referendum vote by Muslims and Croats for independence from Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.

But Wednesday’s verdict was never much in doubt, given the mountain of evidence of Serb atrocities produced at previous trials. Four of Mladic’s subordinates received life sentences.

Karadzic, 72, was convicted of genocide in 2016 and sentenced to 40 years. He is appealing.

Mladic was indicted along with Karadzic in 1995, shortly after the Srebrenica killings. But he evaded capture until 2011, three years after a heavily disguised Karadzic was arrested.

Mladic’s trial in The Hague took five years in part because of delays due to his poor health. He has suffered several strokes, but the ICTY rejected a flurry of last-minute attempts by his lawyers to put off the verdict on medical grounds.

The ICTY indicted 161 people in all from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Of the 83 convicted, more than 60 of them were ethnic Serbs.

sg

Mantente al día con el boletín de El Universal

 

COMENTARIOS