An appeal court in The Hague upheld the conviction of life in prison for former Serbian warlord Bosnian Ratko Mladic for genocide and other crimes committed during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995.
Tuesday’s sentence means that the 79-year-old former general, who terrorized Bosnia during the war, will spend the rest of his life in prison. He is the last major figure in the conflict, which ended more than a quarter of a century ago, to face justice.
The president of the court, Zambian Prisca Matimba Nyambe, said the court dismissed Mladic’s appeal “in its entirety” and confirmed his sentence to life imprisonment.
A group of women from Srebrenica watches a television broadcast of the moment they confirm the conviction of Ratko Mladic. Photo: AP
He also rejected a prosecution appeal against Mladic’s acquittal of another genocide charge related to the ethnic purges at the beginning of the war.
Mladic joins his former political mentor, former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, who is serving a life sentence for being the mastermind of an ethnic cleansing process in the Bosnian war, which he left more than 100,000 dead and millions homeless.
Mladic, a military leader known as the “Bosnian Butcher”, commanded troops responsible for atrocities ranging from “ethnic cleansing” campaigns to the siege of Sarajevo and the bloody climax of the war in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Now, he is a frail old man whose poor health has delayed this final judgment.
His toxic legacy continues to divide Bosnia and its dark shadow has spread beyond the Balkans. For the Bosnian Serbs, he is a war hero who fought to protect his people. For the Bosnians, mostly Muslims, he will always be a villain responsible for their terrible sufferings and losses during the war.
Former Bosnian Serbian military chief Ratko Mladic in court in The Hague. Photo: EFE
Mladic, like Karadzic, has been revered by Serbs and even by foreign supporters of the far right for their bloody war campaigns against the Bosnians.
The Australian who shot dead dozens of Muslim worshipers in a Christchurch, New Zealand church in 2019 is believed to have been inspired by Bosnian Serb leaders of the war, as well as Anders Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who shot 77 people dead in Norway in 2011.