Mladic a cen­tral fig­ure in geno­cide

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

For­mer Bos­nian Serb mil­i­tary commander Ratko Mladic was a cen­tral fig­ure in the 1995 mas­sacre of thou­sands of Mus­lims from Sre­brenica, prose­cu­tors said yes­ter­day in clos­ing ar­gu­ments in his geno­cide trial. Rather than the “marginal­ized fig­ure” his de­fense at­tor­ney made him out to be, Mladic helped or­ches­trate the killings, pros­e­cu­tor Alan Tieger told judges at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal for the For­mer Yu­goslavia (ICTY). “Mladic walked into Sre­brenica and vowed that the time had come to take re­venge on the Turks,” Tieger said.

On July 11, 1995 Mladic promised to give the city to the Ser­bian peo­ple. In the fol­low­ing days, nearly 8,000 “Sre­brenica men and boys, boys as young as 12 years old, had been sys­tem­at­i­cally mur­dered,” he said. Prose­cu­tors were mak­ing their clos­ing ar­gu­ments in Mladic’s trial, the last ma­jor war crimes case at the tri­bunal, which is wind­ing down its work af­ter more than 20 years. Mladic, 74, faces up to life im­pris­on­ment for two counts of geno­cide and nine counts of crimes against hu­man­ity and war crimes. The fi­nal hear­ings run through Dec 15 and a judg­ment is likely in 2017.

“If Mladic hadn’t come to Sre­brenica my son Ner­min, whose birth­day it is to­day, would still be alive, all of our fam­i­lies would be alive,” Mu­nira Suba­sic, a mem­ber of the Moth­ers of Sre­brenica group, said out­side the court­room. Mladic was charged along­side for­mer Bos­nian Serb po­lit­i­cal leader Radovan Karadzic, who was sen­tenced to 40 years in prison in March. Prose­cu­tors say they mas­ter­minded a con­spir­acy to “eth­ni­cally cleanse” large parts of Bos­nia of Mus­lims and Croats and carve out a Ser­bian state dur­ing the vi­o­lent breakup of fed­eral Yu­goslavia in the 1990s. Ac­cord­ing to the Karadzic judg­ment, Mladic shared a goal to “per­ma­nently re­move Bos­nian Mus­lims and Bos­nian Croats from Bos­nian-Serb claimed ter­ri­tory”. Tieger quoted Mladic as telling the Bos­nian Serb assem­bly in 1994 they had an his­toric op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate “not any kind of state, but an all Ser­bian state with as few en­e­mies as pos­si­ble”.

Karadzic and Mladic were in­dicted shortly be­fore the end of Bos­nia’s war, which claimed up to 100,000 lives, but spent more than a decade on the run in Ser­bia be­fore their ar­rest. When Mladic was caught in 2011 he was in poor health af­ter a se­ries of strokes, but the court found he was fit to stand trial. Estab­lished in 1993, the tri­bunal in­dicted 161 in­di­vid­u­als from all sides of the con­flict and 83 have been con­victed. — Reuters

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