The sentence has fallen. Ratko Mladic, “the butcher of the Balkans”, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. International justice has ratified the sentence he received in 2017, in the first instance, on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the Bosnian war. **The difference is that this time the verdict is final, which is why it closes one of the blackest chapters in the recent history of Europe. **
The former Bosnian Serb military chief, turned into an old man of almost 80 years, has listened with a serious gesture to the sentence of the judges of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MTPI). As for the families of the victims, who despite the pandemic have come to The Hague, breathe with relief. International justice has ended more than a quarter of a century demanding justice.
The verdict knocked down one by one the allegations of the defense, which had requested the acquittal of the former general or, failing that, a reduction of the sentence or the repetition of the trial.
Mladic will go down in history as responsible for the worst massacre committed in Europe since World War II, the Srebrenica massacre, where more than 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers were killed by Serbian forces. His name will also remain forever associated with the war crimes in Bosnia, as well as the siege of the city of Sarajevo. Despite everything, many Serbs still consider him a hero.
Trial in the first instance after fifteen years in hiding
After the war, he remained in hiding for 15 years, until he was captured in 2011. A year later, the trial against him began before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In addition to genocide, as responsible for the Sebrenica massacre, Mladic was also convicted of four war crimes and five crimes against humanity.
The defense appealed the verdict for health reasons of the detainee. The Prosecutor’s Office also appealed, considering that he should be convicted on a second count of genocide, for the Prijedor massacre, where more than 3,000 Muslims and Croats were killed or disappeared and 50,000 were expelled.
Trial on appeal: Mladic accuses court of being “an offshoot of Western powers”
In August 2020, during the appeal process, Ratko Mladic said that the court was an “offshoot of the Western powers” and claimed that it remained “a target of the NATO alliance”, accusing prosecutors of presenting it in terms “Satanic, perfidious and evil”.
Deferred issuance: This is how we broadcast live the session in The Hague in which Mladic was sentenced
Mladic is one of the top leaders tried in international tribunals for crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, as well as former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2019, and former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in his cell in The Hague from a heart attack in 2006 before his trial ended.
MTPI prosecutor Serge Brammertz warned that Mladic’s final sentence would not be enough to end divisions in the Balkans, but it will mark the end of a chapter.