Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, one of the protagonists of the Balkan War, once again heard the sentence by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals: life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity.
They nicknamed him “the butcher of the Balkans” and not in vain. Ratko Mladic, the military commander of the Bosnian Serb army during the Balkan War, is responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica, which killed 8,000 Muslims in July 1995.
He is also found guilty of the 1992 siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which lasted 43 months and in which more than 10,000 people, including 1,500 children, lost their lives.
For these crimes against humanity and genocide, Mladic received the final sentence on Tuesday, June 8, that condemns him to life imprisonment. This was determined by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, based in The Hague, Netherlands, after the defense of the military requested a review of the sentence he had received in the first instance.
According to Mladic’s lawyers, the former commander was accused of some specific events for which he had no responsibility. However, the highest instance of international Justice overturned their allegations and confirmed the sentence.
A protagonist of the war in Bosnia
Mladic, 78, was born in Bosnia when the territory was still part of Yugoslavia, a country that grouped now independent nations such as Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia, in addition to Bosnia.
He made a military career as a Yugoslav under the communist order that ruled the country, led by Josip Broz Tito. But in 1991 the disintegration of Yugoslavia began and the conflict was born not only between the countries but also between the different ethnic groups and religions that inhabited the territories.
In this context, Mladic was appointed in 1992 Commander of the Army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, a territory that had been proclaimed in January of that same year and which defended the superiority of the Serbian population, mostly Christian, over the rest of the Bosnian population of Croatian ethnicity or Muslim religion.
The current Bosnia-Herzegovina was one of the countries of the former Yugoslavia that took the worst part in the war: it was the region where many of the ethnic groups of the Balkans converged, so it became the scene of racial and territorial tensions and religious of the conflict.
Thus, Mladic became one of the worst perpetrators of crimes in this conflict. In Srebrenica, a city in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, he annihilated 8,000 Muslims under a slogan that was televised at the time: “Give the Serbian Srebrenica to the Serbian people. The time has come to take revenge on the Turks,” declared Mladic.
The former commander also gave indications of ethnic cleansing during the grim siege of Sarajevo, when he ordered his artillery surrounding the capital to target an area of the city where there were not “many Serbs.”
Mladic was on the run from international justice for 15 years, mainly thanks to the protection of Serbia and the help of retired soldiers in the country.
In 2011 he was arrested in Lazarevo, a Serbian town about 100 kilometers north of Belgrade. Since then he has been detained in the UN detention unit in The Hague.
Mladic, a figure at the center of the conflict still latent
Mladic never fully acknowledged his guilt in the crimes he is accused of. And like Mladic, so many Serbs still believe, denying that genocide was committed in Srebrenica.
For example, Milorad Dodik, representative of the Bosnian Serb community in the Bosnian Presidency, assured that the judgment of international justice contributes “to further reinforcing mistrust between peoples (…) trust in international justice has collapsed. “, assured the politician.
Instead, the victims of the massacre gathered at the memorial center for this crime. “It is good that it is known that a genocide was committed,” said Nura Mustafic, who lost three children and her husband in Srebrenica.
The Muslim representative in the Bosnian Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, declared that “the civilized world will remember him (Mladic) only as a war criminal, nothing more.”
For her part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chilean Michelle Bachelet, celebrated the sentence against Mladic: “It highlights the determination of international justice to hold accountable whatever time it takes.”
“Mladic’s crimes are the abominable culmination of hatred fueled by political ambitions. Today’s decision is about his individual responsibility for his terrible acts, not about collective punishment or about putting the blame on a particular community,” Bachelet said. it’s a statement.
Despite international trials and sentences, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a country divided and torn by the conflict that lasted three decades ago, with unresolved ethnic and religious tensions and a population that lives in a precarious balance.
With EFE and Reuters