By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Cheers erupted as Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army commander responsible for mass murder and other crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War, was sentenced to life in prison by an international tribunal on Wednesday, November 22nd.
The verdict was read by presiding judge Alphons Orie, who called Mladic’s crimes “among the most heinous to humankind.”
Between 1992 and 1995, Mladic oversaw some of the most brutal and horrific crimes against humanity carried out in Europe since World War II. During these years, he lead the Bosnian Serb forces on a relentless ethnic cleansing campaign to rid the country of non-Serbs and became known as the “Butcher of Bosnia.”
The war began after Bosnian Muslims and Croats voted for independence in a referendum strongly opposed by Bosnian Serbs. The country soon descended into war between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs.
Mladic was in charge of the army until the conflict came to an end in 1995, at which time he was indicted on war crimes and went on the run. He was captured in 2011.
In the worst atrocity committed in Europe since World War II, Mladic directed the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims at a town called Srebrenica in July 1995. Men and boys between the ages of 12 and 77 were rounded up and machine-gunned by troops in a field outside of town and then buried in mass graves.
Other crimes committed under Mladic’s unrelenting reign included mass rapes of Bosnian Muslim women and girls, the indiscriminate murder of civilians, deportations and destructions of homes and mosques. Many were imprisoned in camps where they died of malnourishment and disease. Upwards of 100,000 lives were lost between 1992 and 1995. Another 2.2 million people were displaced.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found him guilty on one count of genocide and nine crimes against humanity. The trial lasted for 530 days and included over 500 witnesses and 10,000 exhibits. Mladic has denied all the charges against him and plans to appeal.
U.N. Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’as al-Hussein called Mladic “the epitome of evil,” and said that his prosecution was “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.”
For more information, please see:
BBC News – Ratko Mladic, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’ – 22 November 2017
CNN – Ratko Mladic Guilty of Genocide, Sentenced to life in Prison – 22 November 2017
NPR – Remembering the ‘Monstrous’ Legacy of Ratko Mladic – 22 November 2017
The New York Times – Mladic Conviction Closes Dark Chapter in Europe, but New Era of Uncertainty Looms – 22 November 2017
The Washington Post – Ratko Mladic, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia,’ Guilty of Genocide in Last Balkan war Crimes Trial – 22 November 2017
BBC News – Ratko Mladic Jailed for Life Over Bosnian War Genocide – 23 November 2017
Huffington Post – Ratko Mladic Sentence – 26 November 2017