Tuesday, 17 July 2018 | News today: 20

Ex-commander Ratko Mladic given life sentence for Yugoslav war crimes

The United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Wednesday found former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during Bosnia’s devastating 1992-95 war, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Mladic, who faced 11 counts, stood accused of commanding forces responsible for crimes including the worst atrocities of the war – the deadly three-year siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica, which was Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II, CBS News reports.

According to the statement read by Presiding Judge Alphons Orie, the chamber found Mladic had waged a “campaign of sniping and shelling against the civilian population of Sarajevo.”

The three-judge panel found Mladic was part of a “joint criminal enterprise” which “intended to destroy the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica” and that, “the accused’s acts were so instrumental to the crimes that without them the crimes would not have been carried out as they were.”

The verdict and sentence were delayed by Mladic’s removal from the chamber so his blood pressure could be checked. It was found to be high, and his legal team requested the judge skip the remainder of his summary and move swiftly to the reading of his verdict and sentence.

As the judge attempted to do so, Mladic lashed out verbally in the courtroom and was ordered removed. With the defendant relocated to an external room with a video feed of the proceedings, the judge continued reading his statement, and announced the guilty verdict and the life sentence.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, while Mladic’s defense lawyers said he should be acquitted on all counts.

The judgment marks the end of the tribunal’s final trial. The groundbreaking court was set up in 1993, while fierce fighting was still raging in Bosnia.

The conflict in the former Yugoslavia erupted after the breakup of the former multi-ethnic federation in the early 1990s, with the worst crimes taking place in Bosnia. More than 100,000 people died and millions lost their homes before a peace agreement was signed in 1995.

Mladic’s political master during the war, former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic was convicted last year for masterminding atrocities in Bosnia and sentenced to 40 years. He has appealed the ruling.

Karadzic was indicted along with Mladic in 1995 but evaded arrest until he was captured in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2008. At the time, he was posing as a New Age healer, Dr. Dragan Dabic, and was disguised by a thick beard and shaggy hair.

The man widely blamed for fomenting wars across the Balkans, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, died in his UN cell in 2006 before tribunal judges could reach verdicts in his trial.

Mladic went into hiding after the war and remained a fugitive until his arrest in Serbia in May 2011.