Ratko Mladic, the former Serb military commander during the Bosnian war, has gone on trial for crimes against humanity, 17 years after the conflict came to an end. Mladic faces 11 charges including two counts of genocide, extermination, murder inhumane acts and deportation in connection with the worst atrocities Europe has seen since the Nazi era. More than 100,000 people died, mostly Muslim and Croat civilians.
It was 1995. I’d just left Pristina, Kosovo, when Bosnian Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic surrounded a small Bosnian town called Gorazde. After allowing women and small children to leave, Mladic ordered the extermination of 3,000 Muslim men and teenage boys, almost all of whom were non-combatants. It was one more brutally inhuman massacre in a war filled with them. Bosnia, as had Croatia before it, had become one of this generation’s versions of Hell. Gen. Ratko Mladic was the Bosnian Serb commander most responsible for numerous inhuman Serb war crimes.
After several years of hiding from an international manhunt severely lacking in urgency, Mladic was finally captured on May 26, 2011. The “Butcher of Bosnia” is now a feeble, pathetic 70-year-old about to go on trial for war crimes. A man without a country and without friends, Mladic’s daughter committed suicide when she realized the butchery that her father was responsible for. Mladic, who once inspired fear and terror among Bosnian Muslims, is now completely and utterly alone.
Of course, being frail, pitiful, and alone doesn’t mean that he’ll have to worry justice being done any time soon. Mladic may be about to go on trial…once his attorneys play out the string.
The presiding judge at the UN trial of Ratko Mladic said he was indefinitely delaying the presentation of evidence that had been scheduled to start later this month due to “significant disclosure errors” by prosecutors in disclosing evidence to defence lawyers.
At the end of the second day of the hearing in the Hague, Alphons Orie said he was delaying the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal because prosecutors had not fulfilled their obligation to share all their evidence with Mladic’s lawyers.
Making certain all the legal “i’s” are dotted and “t’s” are crossed is all well and good, but the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has become something of a running joke. Before Mladic, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian President Radovan Karadzic successfully managed to tie ICTY in knots (the trial of Karadzic is still in process). Mladic appears to be traveling a similar path. Meanwhile, the widows of Srebrenica, Gorazde, Sarajevo, and other places with sorrowful tales to tell are left to wonder if there will ever be justice for the loved ones they’ve lost.