Former Bosnian commander Ratko Mladic sentenced to life imprisonment

21.11.2017 ( Last modified: 23.11.2017 )

Wednesday 22 November 2017, a historical verdict convicted Ratko Mladic, referred to by his detractors as “the Butcher of Bosnia”, of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. 


A turning point for justice in BiH

The suspect, who was arrested in 2011, has been judged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which Ratko Mladic referred to as a “satanic court”.

With more than 500 days of hearings and hundreds of witnesses appearing in Court, this trial is one of the most important in the history of the tribunal.

“This outcome confirms today my deep belief that the battle against impunity is worth fighting,” said Adrijana Hanušić Bećirović, Senior Legal Adviser at TRIAL International’s BiH Program. “It sends a strong message that earlier or later, justice can be served even under the most complex circumstances.” 


Ethnic killings and detentions

The accused commanded the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) between 1992 and 1996. According to the prosecution, he formed a “joint criminal enterprise” along with Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic to create a Greater Serbia. For this purpose, they allegedly orchestrated an ethnic cleansing.

The alleged crimes in the indictment included, among others: the killing of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, their detention in living conditions calculated to bring about their physical destruction, the massacre of over 7’000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys of Srebrenica.

“This trial marks a historical moment for justice and victims of the conflict,” said Selma Korjenic, Head of TRIAL International’s BiH Program. “After much disappointment for victims, it is important that the international community sends the message that evil will be answered with a proportionate response.” 

The ICTY has indicted more than 160 individuals since its creation by the United Nations in 1993. After 24 years of existence, the Tribunal will close its doors at the end of the year.

Ratko Mladic has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the judges, but the verdict can be appealed.

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