War crimes judges uphold genocide conviction and life sentence against former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic over Srebrenica massacre
The verdict by five judges at the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals is final and cannot be appealed any further.
The war left around 100,000 people dead and 2.2 million displaced.But Mladic, who gives his age as 78 but it is 79 according to the court, insisted during an appeal hearing last year that he was a "target of the NATO alliance" and derided the court as a "child of western powers."
His lawyers argued that he was far from the scene at the time of the actual killings in Srebrenica, and that he could not be held responsible for the crimes of his subordinates.They will be watching for the findings of presiding judge Prisca Nyambe of Zambia, who gave a dissenting opinion in the 2012 verdict of Mladic's right-hand man Zdravko Tolimir, which questioned the basis for his genocide conviction.
The appeal hearing was delayed repeatedly after Mladic needed surgery to remove a polyp, and then because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Access to the court on Tuesday was also limited because of coronavirus measures.Bosnian Muslim women await the start of a TV broadcast of the final verdict of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on June 8, 2021. (Reuters) headtopics.com
'His work is great' Mladic is the last of the Serb trio to face justice, with Milosevic dying of a heart attack in his cell in The Hague in 2006 before his trial had finished, while Karadzic is serving a life sentence for genocide in Srebrenica.
Relatives of the victims hoped that the court would also overturn Mladic's acquittal on wider genocide convictions, saying it was necessary for reconciliation between still-divided communities."This verdict is not only important for the victims and survivors. It is very important for the future of our children, of all of us," said Subasic, who planned to be at the court with around a dozen supporters.
For some Bosnian Serbs, Mladic and Karadzic remain heroes.A few dozen Serbs gathered on the eve of the verdict at Bratunac, near Srebrenica, to watch a film about Mladic, although the turnout was smaller than expected."His work is great and should never be forgotten," Vojin Pavlovic, president of the Istocna alternativa nationalist association, told AFP, but added that they were "pessimistic" about the verdict.
"You just have to be a Serb to be sentenced in The Hague."Prosecutor Brammertz warned the Mladic judgment would not bring an end to the divisions in the Balkans, saying it was just "the end of one chapter.""Denial of genocide is the last phase of the genocide," Brammertz said. headtopics.com
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