Bosnian Serb military leader Mladic to hear final verdict in genocide case
Appeals judges will deliver a verdict against former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on Tuesday, ending the last Bosnian genocide trial before the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Mladic, 78, led the Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. He was convicted in 2017 of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including terrorizing the civilian population of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during a 43-month siege, and the murder of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995.
Judges will begin reading their decision at 3:00 p.m. local time (1:00 p.m. GMT).
“This really is the last big trial. It’s a never-ending story that many people thought would never end and it is now,” said Utrecht University historian Iva Vukusic.
The verdict comes after a 25-year trial at the United Nations ad hoc war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which sentenced 90 people. It is widely regarded as one of the predecessors of the International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, also sitting in The Hague.
Vukusic stressed that Tuesday’s verdict sends a message not only to the victims of the former Yugoslavia, but also to other people in conflict, such as those in Syria.
“It sends the message that things are possible even when it seems hopeless,” she said. Mladic escaped justice for 15 years until his arrest in Serbia in 2011.
The UN prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, underlined the importance of the Mladic judgment for the victims who live daily with the trauma of the Yugoslav conflict of the 1990s.
“If you talk to the survivors, to the mothers (from Srebrenica) who lost their husbands, their sons: their life really came to a halt on the day of the genocide,” he told reporters before the verdict.
In the Bosnian capital, residents of Sarajevo lamented that Mladic is still considered a hero in the Serb-dominated region of the ethnically divided country. Read more
Mladic’s lawyers appealed his conviction and argued that the former general could not be held responsible for possible crimes committed by his subordinates. They asked for an acquittal or a new trial.
Prosecutors want Mladic’s conviction upheld, along with his life sentence.
If his conviction is upheld on appeal, the court will begin to search for a host country willing to house Mladic for the remainder of his sentence. So far, fourteen different European countries have taken in United Nations convicts to serve their sentences. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was transferred to a British prison in May this year.
(History corrects the day, paragraph 6)
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