Ratko Mladic was born on 12 March 1942 in the municipality of Kalinovik, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mladic was a career officer in the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA). In 1992 General Mladic joined the newly created army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina/ Republika Srpska(VRS), established by the Assembly of Bosnian Serbs on 12 May 1992 and became its Commander in Chief. He held this position at least until 22 December 1996.
Upon recognition by the international community of the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 6 April 1992, fighting broke out in Sarajevo. The town was subjected to a blockade, to heavy artillery fire and to the action of isolated snipers. Starting in May 1992, the VRS), under Mladic’s command unleashed a campaign of bombardments and sniper shootings against the civilian areas of the town, terrorising, wounding and killing civilians and destroying buildings.
The VRS took control of the municipalities situated on the territory of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, from where it began a campaign of persecution against the non-Serbian population aimed at forcing them out through expulsions, forced displacements, arrests, murder and imprisonment in detention centres where these people were subjected to cruel treatment both physical and psychological as well as to cruel and inhumane living conditions. The homes, businesses, places of worship and belongings of the non-Serbian population were also pillaged, destroyed and/or confiscated.
Between January and March 1993, the VRS launched an attack against the Cerska region in eastern Bosnia, leading to the flight of thousands of Muslims who subsequently sought refuge in the territories controlled by the authorities of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which included Srebrenica and Zepa. Despite resolution 819 of the UN Security Council, of 16 April 1993, requiring that all parties to the conflict in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina treat Srebrenica, Zepa, Goradze, Sarajevo (and their surroundings) as “security zones” which should not be the target of any armed attack nor of any other hostile action, the VSR, under the command of General Mladic and by order of Karadzic, attacked the enclave of Srebrenica between the 2 and 11 July 1995.
Thousands of Muslim men present in this enclave were forced to surrender to the VRS, and more than 7000 of these captured Bosnian Muslims were summarily executed between the 13 and 19 July 1995. The VRS then tried to cover up the murders of these Muslims in Srebrenica by exhuming the bodies of the victims from the mass graves in order to rebury them in more isolated areas.
In addition, from 26 May to 19 June 1995, the VRS captured and held as hostages more than 200 military observers and members of the UN peacekeeping forces, in retaliation for the air raids carried out by NATO against the Bosnian Serb forces.
In his capacity as Commander in Chief of the VRS, General Mladic had authority over the entire operations of the VRS and therefore assumed full responsibility for them, given that he was in charge of planning and directing the overall operations of the VRS, as well as controlling the activities of all of its officers and subordinate units.