UN court sentences 'Butcher of Bosnia' to life in prison

UN court sentences 'Butcher of Bosnia' to life in prison

THE HAGUE - The Associated Press
UN court sentences Butcher of Bosnia to life in prison

U.N. tribunal on Nov. 22 convicted former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity for orchestrating massacres and ethnic cleansing during Bosnia’s war and sentenced him to life in prison.

Mladic, 74, was hustled out of the court minutes before the verdict for screaming “this is all lies, you are all liars.”

The U.N. Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Mladic guilty of 10 of 11 charges, including the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 11,000 civilians were killed by shelling and sniper fire over 43 months.

The killings in Srebrenica of men and boys after they were separated from women and taken away in buses or marched off to be shot amounted to Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

“The crimes committed rank among the most heinous known to humankind, and include genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity,” Presiding Judge Alphons Orie said in reading out a summary of the judgment.

“Many of these men and boys were cursed, insulted, threatened, forced to sing Serb songs and beaten while awaiting their execution,” he said.

Mladic, the most notorious of the ICTY’s cases along with ex-Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, had pleaded not guilty to all charges and is expected to appeal against his conviction.

‘Partially satisfied’ with the verdictIn its summary, the tribunal found Mladic “significantly contributed” to genocide committed in Srebrenica with the goal of destroying its Muslim population, “personally directed” the long bombardment of Sarajevo and was part of a “joint criminal enterprise” intending to purge Muslims and Croats from Bosnia.

Meanwhile, Bosnian victims and families yesterday said they were “partially satisfied” with the verdict.   

“I’m partially satisfied. It’s more than for (Radovan) Karadzic.

But they didn’t find him guilty for the accusation of genocide in some villages,” said Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association. 

In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called Mladic the “epitome of evil” and said his conviction after 16 years as an indicted fugitive and over four years of trial was a “momentous victory for justice.” 

“The prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about,” Zeid said in a statement.

Aleksandar Vucic, president of Serbia whose late nationalist strongman Milosevic was Mladic’s patron but died in a tribunal prison before the end of his trial, said Serbia “respects the victims” and called for a focus on the future.

“I would like to call on everyone (in the region) to start looking into the future and not to drown in tears of the past... We need to look to the future...so we finally have a stable country,” Vucic told reporters when asked about the verdict.

Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said he hoped that “those who still call for new divisions and conflicts will carefully read the verdict rendered today ...in case that they are still no ready to face their past.

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