Ratko Mladic to address judges directly in Srebrenica appeal


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More than 6,500 victims are buried at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic is due to address judges in The Hague in an appeal against his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity.

He was jailed for life in 2017 for his participation in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed.

Mladic’s attorneys argued he was far from town when this happened.

The second and final day of the hearing opened on Wednesday.

It takes place before a United Nations tribunal that is considering appeals and remaining cases from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which ended in 2017.

Mladic’s health issues and coronavirus restrictions delayed proceedings earlier.

Meanwhile, the prosecution urges judges to convict Mladic on a new charge of genocide.

The Srebrenica massacre was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

What did the court hear on the last day?

Mladic, 78, entered the courtroom wearing a disposable mask and sat behind a plexiglass screen.

Three of the four appeal judges are participating remotely via video link due to coronavirus restrictions.

Prosecutor Laurel Baig’s lawyer said Mladic had been convicted of some of the “most heinous crimes of the 20th century.”


Mladic is due to speak Wednesday

“Mladic was in charge of Operation Srebrenica, Srebrenica was Operation Mladic,” she was quoted as saying by AFP.

“And the chamber was correct in concluding that he was responsible for these crimes. He used the forces under his command to execute thousands of men and boys. ”

The convict complained that the hour-long breaks between sessions – to allow the courtroom to be ventilated and cleaned – were too long for him to spend in a small seclusion room and judges responded by reducing them to 40 minutes.

Ratko Mladic looks out from behind a transparent three-sided screen.

The prosecutor described how his forces carried out the ethnic cleansing of Srebrenica: “Their objective, to wipe out the enclave, to empty it, to make it Serbian territory …” And how, on July 11, after tens of thousands of Muslims fled for their life, Mladic led a victory march through the city, calling him Serbian Srebrenica and announcing: “The time has come for revenge on the Turks”.

An estimated 8,000 men and boys, mostly Muslim, were separated from their terrified families, put on trucks, taken to fields, roadblocks and warehouses, and executed with gunshots or grenades. Their bodies were thrown into holes or mass graves, and then some were dug up, moved by heavy machinery, and re-buried elsewhere in an attempt to hide the massacre.

I met one of the survivors a few years ago in one of the warehouses in Srebrenica. He described standing among rows and rows of men, asking to move forward line by line. As the row in front of them fell past the firing squads, he survived by hiding under a pile of bodies and pretending to be dead until Mladic’s men left.

Every once in a while the former military general catches a glimpse of himself on the screen in front of him in court, smiles, rubs his wedding ring, or fixes his hair, but otherwise appears to show no response to the catalog of crimes that he is accused. to commit.

How did the first day go?

Mladic’s lawyers told the UN tribunal on Tuesday that proceedings should not continue until a medical team examines his ability to participate.

They argued that he had been wrongly convicted of “unforeseen incidents” charged during his trial.

Initially found guilty on 10 counts, prosecutors say he should also be convicted of genocide against Bosnians and Croats in 1992.

The trial appeared to be affected by technical issues.

Presiding Judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe, who was among the judges following the video link proceedings, said at one point that she was unable to read the words of the defense attorney and that she should act. trust the transcriptions.

At another point, defense lawyer Dragan Ivetic complained that he was unable to communicate with his client “or be assured that he is able to meaningfully follow the proceedings.”

The man called the “Bosnian Butcher” needed surgery to remove a benign polyp from his colon, and had a health delay request rejected before the hearing.

What was Mladic convicted of?

Mladic was the military commander of the Bosnian Serb forces against the Croatian and Bosnian armies. He was tried at the ICTY in 2012 and was convicted in 2017.

The court ruled that he had “contributed significantly” to the Srebrenica genocide.

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The other charges included war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He was cleared of a second count of genocide in other municipalities. The court will hear this week an appeal from prosecutors against the acquittal.

The Mothers of Srebrenica, a group of women linked to the victims of a massacre in the town in 1995, said the audience “must not lose its motivation, and must carry out its mission.”

“We hope that Mladic will also be found guilty of genocide in other cities,” Munira Subasic, president of the organization, told AFP.

When the war ended in 1995, Mladic went into hiding and lived in darkness in Serbia, protected by his family and elements of the security forces.

He was eventually found and arrested at a cousin’s home in rural northern Serbia in 2011 after 16 years on the run.


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