UN judges on Tuesday upheld the life sentence of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Known as the “Bosnian butcher”, he was convicted in November 2017 on charges of killing more than 8,000 boys and men in July 1995 in Srebrenica, one of the worst atrocities in Europe since the end of the Kosovo War. World War II. The massacre took place in an area that had been declared protected by the United Nations.
Ratko Mladic was responsible for the siege and bombing of Sarajevo where 10,000 civilians were killed. The Srebrenica massacre and the years-long siege of Sarajevo were the developments that turned the world upside down against the Serbs and sparked NATO airstrikes that led to the end of the war with the agreement reached in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995.
He is also guilty of persecuting Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia, and holding members of United Nations forces hostage.
President Biden considers the decision on Ratko Mladic a historic trial
The judges’ decision was welcomed by US President Joe Biden, who said: “This historic trial shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable. “It also reinforces our shared determination to prevent such atrocities from happening in the future anywhere in the world.”
In a press release published by White House The United States is said to have helped lead international efforts to end atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, bring to justice those who commit crimes there and in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and establish lasting peace.
“Justice and reconciliation are the foundation of peace and stability for the future, and today’s decision is also an important confirmation that this is possible. “I sincerely hope that the leaders in the region will respect this judgment and reinforce its importance to the rule of law,” Biden was quoted as saying.
“My thoughts today are with all the surviving families of many victims of Mladic’s atrocities. “We can never undo the tragedy of their death, but I hope that today’s trial will provide some comfort to all those who are grieving,” said President Biden in a statement.
Today’s appeals decision also marks the end of United Nations prosecutions for crimes committed in the Bosnian war that left behind more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced.
Ratko Mladic, indicted in 1995 by the war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia, had been in Belgrade for the first few years following the indictment, hiding after the fall of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in the autumn of 2000.
In May 2011, he was arrested on a farm in northern Serbia, following a period of European Union pressure on Serbia aspiring to European integration.
The trial against him opened in May 2012.
The war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia was established in 1993 and was the first war crimes tribunal after the Nuremberg military tribunal at the end of World War II.
She filed charges against 161 people, 90 of whom have been convicted. In March 2016, this court found Ratko Mladic’s political boss, Radovan Karadzic, guilty, who is currently serving a life sentence in the UK on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was indicted in 1999 during the Kosovo war and sent to The Hague in 2001. He died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia.
The court completed its work with the sentencing of Ratko Mladic in 2017, and the remaining cases are being handled by an international mechanism set up at the former court headquarters.
Agius: Serbia is challenging the authority of the Security Council
The UN Security Council discussed the report on the work of this mechanism and Serbia’s refusal to hand over to it two members of the Serbian Radical Party, Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic, accused in 2012 of intimidation, intimidation and bribery. witnesses in the trial of that party leader Vojislav Seselj.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vuçi., Who until 2008 was a senior official of the Radical Party, has stressed that in some cases he will not hand over his former colleagues.
The head of the Mechanism, Carmel Agius, said during the debate that “Serbia’s inaction not only undermines the effective administration of justice before the mechanism, but also disregards the international community by challenging the authority of the Security Council and the United Nations Charter.”
The Serbian president said that the case should be left to justice in Serbia and that the Supreme Court in Belgrade has decided that there are no conditions for the extradition of the two accused.
“We judge according to the laws of Serbia,” he said.
Former Serbian President Vojislav Seselj’s former chief nationalist was sentenced in 2018 to ten years in prison on charges of crimes against non-Serbs in Croatia, the Serb region of Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the Balkan wars that led to the dissolution of former Yugoslavia.
He was extradited in 2003 and remained in The Hague until 2014. Having spent nearly 12 years in prison, his sentence is considered served.
The Serbian president said that Serbia condemned the “terrible crime” that took place in Srebrenica, but avoided mentioning the assessment that genocide was committed by Serbian forces in that city.
Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, meanwhile, said that “denial and glorification are the last stage of genocide and political means used for political purposes”, while underlining that “in Serbia, war crimes convicts are given space to deny crimes”.
The EU welcomes the decision
The verdict against Ratko Mladic was welcomed by senior EU officials who said that “the denial of genocide, revisionism and the glorification of war criminals run counter to the most fundamental European values”.
“Today’s decision is an opportunity for leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region to pave the way for honoring the victims and promoting an environment conducive to reconciliation, overcoming the legacy of war and building lasting peace.” , said in a response to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi.