As the trial for notorious Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladić, comes to a close after a lengthy five-year trial, survivors, victim’s families, and the prosecution are calling for a life sentence.
Anything less, lawyers are saying would be an ‘insult to his victims.’
Mladić is being accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and two counts of genocide, which occurred during the Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995.
As a senior officer in the Yugoslav army in 1991, before the socialist federation fell apart, Mladić was in a prime position of control. When war struck the following year in Bosnia-Hercegovina following its declaration of independence, he remained in control and governed Bosnian Serb forces that divided the country in retaliation.
Accused as the commander of the two largest genocide’s witnessed in Europe post World War II, Ratko Mladić commanded the killing of 10,000 people in Sarajevo, and 7,000 Muslim men and boys in United Nations safe haven, Srebrenica.
In Sarajevo, Mladić commanded continuous shelling and sniper fire on victims during the longest siege in modern history, where the city was circled for 46 months.
In the safe haven of Srebrenica held by the United Nations, Ratko Mladić was personally seen comforting mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters, reassuring them that these men were in safe hands, to only find out the complete opposite. As a part of an ethnic cleansing plan for a Greater Serbia, Bosnian Serb forces carted 7,000 Muslim men and boys away to be executed and thrown into mass graves.
The prosecution has produced evidence over the five-year period as well, that Mladić frequently promoted subordinates that carried out acts of ethnic cleansing and murder against the non-Serb population of Bosnia.
The prosecution of this high profiled war criminal, responsible for crimes that bring to memory the Nazi era, is essential for the justice and peace of Bosnia. Without this, it will enable long-term hatred and ethnic tensions to flow underneath the makeup of a nation, which will constantly threaten its stability.
Hatidza Mehmedovic, the wife and mother of victims of the Srebrenica massacre, is among one of those who traveled to witness the trial of Mladić and profess the importance of his conviction. “… It is important for the past, for Bosnia and the whole region, and it’s important for the future,” she comments.
The prosecution has closed their case, with the defense due to finalize theirs between the 9th and 13th of this month. A verdict on the case against Ratko Mladić is due to be handed down in 2017, 6 years after his arrest.