Nearly three decades after the outbreak of war in the Balkans Which saw some of the most shocking abuses in Europe since the end of World War II, an international court has convicted the commander-in-chief of bloodshed.
Bosnian Serb commander, former general Ratko Mladic, was found guilty of genocide. commit crimes against humanity and war crimes He was sentenced to life in prison.
on Tuesday The former Yugoslavia’s International Criminal Court in The Hague upheld the verdict. It draws close to one of the darkest chapters in modern European history. and ended a legal battle that stretched back to 1995 when Mr Maladik was the first to be indicted.
Now 79, Mladik has always said that he has just completed his military service and has made no apologies. throughout the judicial process
Despite the verdict — with the presiding judge of the first trial, Alphons Orie — said Mr. Mladic’s crimes ranked “the best.” “among the most evil known” – the prosecution also appealed the verdict.
Mr Maladish was found guilty of various charges. This includes attacking and killing civilians. During the siege of Sarajevo He was also found guilty of genocide for directing the executions of 8,000 notorious Muslim men and boys after Maladian forces seized the desecrated Srebrenica region. Protected by the United Nations
But prosecutors want the court to add another genocide verdict, including bloodshed in 1992, the deadliest year of the war when about 45,000 people were killed.
The five appeals committees insisted on life sentences. It ruled that Mr Maladish had not provided enough evidence to overturn his conviction.
The court also rejected the plaintiff’s appeal.
Throughout the war in Bosnia, which ran from 1992 to 1995, about 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced, according to estimates. More than 50,000 women were raped.
Mr. Mladic’s first name, Ratko, is a diminutive form of Ratimir; English title translated into question War or peace? It was a name often given to male babies during wartime.
Mr. Mladic told The Times in an interview in 1994 that he was born in “what is known as Old Herzegovina”, now part of the independent country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1942 during World War II. two Conflict was a major issue in his life. His actions during the war in the Balkans led him to be called the “The Butcher of Bosnia”
during the Second World War The Balkans were swept away by violence. with multi-religious and transnational mosaics of Serbs Most of which are rooted in Orthodox Bosniaks, who are generally Muslims. and the Croats, usually Roman Catholic. Often contradicting each other, about 1.7 million former Yugoslavias died between 1941 and 1945.
From the ashes of war, Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito promoted the slogan to bring the shattered regions together: “bratstvo i jedinstvo” or “brotherhood and unity.”
But Tito died in 1980, and by 1991 the ties that held Yugoslavia together were torn to pieces. With the country’s eventual collapse, it led to years of bloody war in the region.
Mr. Mladic, who served in the Yugoslavian Army Appointed commander of the Serbian army in Bosnia in May 1992 following the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and allegations of war crimes, Mr Mladic initially resided openly in the Serbian military headquarters. But then go hide and keep running. He was arrested in 2011 and sent to The Hague for trial.
Why is the final verdict important?
The final trial in the Mladic case comes at a time when a growing number of Serbian nationalists are determined to rewrite the history of the conflict, denying allegations of war crimes on their side, and Do not refer to that point from textbooks.
Convicted war criminals were hailed as heroes and given prominent positions. At least one person has been appointed to teach at the Serbian military academy.
In half of Bosnia dominated by Serbs Giant paintings and posters of Mr Maladish in his military uniform appear in public spaces. and he was named head of the Veterans Association.
The student residence is named Radovan Karadzic, who was a political leader in the Bosnian Serbs in the war. who served a life sentence for his role during the battle.
Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Court Said in a recent conference call with journalists: “Today, the commendation and denial of genocide is much stronger than it was five or 10 years ago. And I’ve been doing this job for 13 years.”
He noted that politicians across the region, in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, continue to try to exploit ethnic hatred. “Hidden attitudes persist in many politicians,” he said. “The difference is that today they are no longer ashamed to reveal their lies to the public.”
What has the court accomplished?
When the court was first announced in 1993, though, fighting still raged. The goal is to apprehend the most brutal offenders and to create a solid historical record of events in hopes of laying the groundwork for reconciliation.
over the years More than 160 people have been indicted and 80 trials have been conducted, with more than 5,000 witnesses offering heartbreaking accounts of the atrocities they have experienced.
Court supporters said It’s too early to say what role court records will play in helping to preserve this still divided area.
Wolfgang Petritsch, an Austrian diplomat who is the UN’s High Representative in Bosnia and continues to travel around the region, said: “I’m quite pessimistic. The three countries have confirmed they are victims of war and are promoting a new editorial view. question the facts and their role.”
He distinguishes Serbia from its failure to face the past.
“The Serbs never admit they were the perpetrators,” he said. “They admit that the killings took place during the war. But they don’t want to be called a genocidal country.”
For many who ended their killing campaigns to drive Muslims and Croats out of their homes and lands. Only the truth can end tensions between ethnic groups in the region.
Among them was Emir Suljagic. He witnessed the horrors at Srebrenica while working as an interpreter for the UN peacekeepers.
His father and brother were killed in the massacre. Today, Suljagic teaches at the University of Sarajevo.
“Ratko Mladic takes the most important part of his life, taking others and taking loved ones,” he wrote in a recent analysis.
“When he is gone forever His life’s work will remain with us. It will continue to be poisoned until further consideration.”
What will happen next?
For Mr. Mladic, the appeal decision is final. because the verdict is guilty He will be extradited from the UN detention center in The Hague to a European country where he has been sentenced to prison. The destination was not disclosed. But it is not expected to be a prison on the Isle of Wight, a British island in the south of England, where Mr Karadzic is serving a life sentence.
It may be more important for those following the Mladic case how the generals’ actions will be judged by history. Will he go down in the chronicles as the villain of the bloody genocide, or will the attempt to portray him as a patriot and heroes will endure?