Bosnian Serbian military chief Mladic convicted of genocide – World
Mladic, 75, was found guilty of commanding forces responsible for crimes including the worst atrocities of the war — the deadly three-year siege of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica, which was Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.
His lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, told journalists that Mladic will appeal.
A three-judge panel in The Hague court, formally known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, convicted Mladic of 10 of 11 counts in a dramatic climax to a groundbreaking effort to seek justice for the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Judge Alphons Orie read out the judgment after ordering Mladic out of the courtroom over an angry outburst.
“The crimes committed rank among the most heinous known to humankind,” Orie said.
Mothers of Srebrenica’s victims clapped when the convictions were read out.
Mladic’s son, Darko Mladic, said: “I’m not surprised. The court was totally biased from the start.”
Bosnians and Serbs watched from near and far as the long-awaited climax approached. Wednesday’s judgment marks the end of the final trial at the tribunal, which was set up in 1993, while fierce fighting was still raging in Bosnia.
Emotions ran high outside the courtroom, with a small skirmish reflecting lingering tensions between Serbs and Bosnians over the trial and the war.
Despite ailing health, Mladic initially looked relaxed, greeting lawyers and giving a thumbs-up to photographers in court. He nodded regularly as presiding Judge Alphons Orie read out descriptions of atrocities by Bosnian Serb forces, one by one.
Then Mladic’s lawyer asked for a delay because the general was suffering high blood pressure. The judge refused, and Mladic burst out with criticism and was ordered to leave the room.
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, while Mladic’s defence lawyers said he should be acquitted on all counts.
Orie said the court confirmed that “genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and the inhuman act of forcible transfer were committed in or around Srebrenica” in 1995. Previous judgments have said it was genocide. However, Orie said the court is “not convinced” of genocidal intent in six other municipalities, in line with previous judgments.
‘The epitome of evil’
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has hailed the conviction of Mladic as a “momentous victory for justice.”
In a statement, he said Mladic is “the epitome of evil, and the prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about.”
“Mladic presided over some of the darkest crimes to occur in Europe since World War II, bringing terror, death and destruction to thousands of victims, and sorrow, tragedy and trauma to countless more,” he said.
“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. They will be held accountable,” Zeid said.
A former prisoner of Serb-run camps in northwestern Bosnia who became a symbol of the 1992 to 1995 war horrors says justice has finally been satisfied.
Fikret Alic was featured in photos published in Time magazine in 1992, when thousands of Muslims were rounded up in the notorious camps by Bosnian Serbian troops.
Alic’s skeletal figure behind a barbed wire shocked the world and raised international awareness of the war.
“Justice has won, and the war criminal has been convicted,” said Alic, who was in The Hague as UN judges declared Mladic guilty.
He added that the verdict “means that the example will help prevent war crimes in the future.”