In the first instance, former Serb forces chief in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life in prison. Now the appellate court must decide on his appeals.
In November 2017, the Hague Tribunal for War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Serbian General Ratko Mladic to life in prison for genocide in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 for persecuting Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia. Herzegovina and the terrorization of the civilian population in Sarajevo surrounded by Serbian forces.
Between April 1992 and July 1995, Mladic and his Bosnian Serb army attacked, looted, and destroyed towns and villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was convicted of thousands of murders, systematic displacement and rape of the non-Serb population. Mladic was also responsible for the abduction of members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the 1992-1995 war.
The court found him guilty of ten of the eleven counts in the indictment. He was released only on the point of genocide in six Bosniak municipalities in 1992.
This was the last trial of the Hague Tribunal in the first instance, and the next appellate trial (June 8) will be the first trial of the successor of the Tribunal – the International Mechanism of the Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunal (IRMTC).
Because the defense and the public prosecutor have appealed the verdict, there will now be a decision on appeal. The defense demands Mladic’s innocence because he thinks there was not enough evidence to convict him. Prosecutors believe the first-instance panel erred in acquitting Mladic of genocide charges in six Bosnia and Herzegovina municipalities.
“Shoot only at human flesh! Only people should shoot! They have nothing, they only have a few simple weapons, nothing else! ” So Ratko Mladic ordered his soldiers by radio when they attacked the then-UN-protected area of Srebrenica in July 1995. And they carried out his order: 30,000 Bosniaks were expelled from their homes within a short time. days, before the eyes of the Dutch soldiers. About 8,000 people, mostly boys and men, were executed and buried in mass graves. It was the largest massacre in Europe after World War II.
At the height of his career, Colonel-General Ratko Mladic was an ardent nationalist. He saw himself as a revenge of the Serbs for the centuries-old Turkish rule in the Balkans. In the international media he was called the “Butcher of the Balkans”.
Fighting in Croatia…
He started his career as a staunch communist. Born in Eastern Bosnia in 1943, Mladic was just two years old when his father, one of Tito’s partisans, was killed by Croatian fascist militias – known as the Ustashas. He later attended the Yugoslav Military Academy in Belgrade and graduated as the best in his year. As a gift he received a pistol of the Yugoslav brand “Zastava”. At the time he said that from this pistol he would only shoot in the air, to celebrate the birth of his grandchildren.
At the beginning of the war in Croatia, in June 1991, when Serbs living in Croatia rebelled against Croatian independence, Mladic, as a colonel in the Yugoslav Army, was the commander of the 9th Corps in Knin. His task was to organize the Serbian militia and support them in the fight against Croatian independence. Under his command, the towns of Sibenik and Zadar were bombed and the Croatian population was expelled from the surrounding areas.
… And in Bosnia and Herzegovina
In May 1992, Mladic started the same job in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile promoted to general, Mladic became commander of Bosnian Serb troops and fought to establish a link between Serb-held areas in eastern and western Bosnia. He personally ordered the siege and bombing of the capital Sarajevo.
He publicly said that only military targets should always be attacked. But a message caught on the radio at the time showed the opposite: “You must keep the Presidency and Parliament buildings on fire.” Hit, there are not many Serbs there. “We will destroy them (Bosniaks).”
Opposition of international forces
To many international observers, Mladic embodied Serb disregard for the West. “Borders have always been set with blood, while states have been created with cemeteries,” was one of his statements.
Although he was formally subordinate to the Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic had considerable influence within the Bosnian Serb leadership. He was never just a soldier. For example, he reportedly persuaded the Bosnian Serb parliament to reject the peace plan of international mediators David Owen and Cyrus Vance in 1993.
On July 25, 1995, before the signing of the Dayton Accords, Mladic and Karadzic were indicted for crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the war crimes tribunal in the former Yugoslavia. A year later, Republika Srpska’s new president, Biljana Plavsic, fired Mladic from the post of chief of staff of the Bosnian Serb army. He disappeared from public view, presumably with the support of politicians and the military in Serbia. But he did not need to hide much, because he was confident in his defense in Serbia. It has sometimes been seen in restaurants or football stadiums.
In May 2011, Mladic was arrested in Serbia – following heavy international pressure on the Serbian government. Nearly 600 witnesses were heard in his 523-day trial.
Mladic has always pleaded not guilty, calling the allegations “disgusting” and calling the Hague tribunal “satanic”. The prosecution sought life imprisonment, defending his acquittal.
At the time he was still on the run, Mladic threatened to commit suicide, saying he had a poison pill with him all the time. He said he would not surrender alive. But Mladic did not swallow the pill and has since survived three strokes in prison.
On the other hand, his daughter killed herself before the end of the war, in 1994. It is said that she could no longer bear the accusations of crimes against her father. She shot herself in the head with a bullet from the “Zastava” pistol, which her father had once received as a reward./DW/