More than 20 years later

News from the Hague:

The former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, nicknamed the ‘butcher of Bosnia’, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, Mladić was found guilty at the United Nations-backed international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague of 10 offences involving extermination, murder and persecution of civilian populations.

As he entered the courtroom, Mladić gave a broad smile and thumbs up to the cameras – a gesture that infuriated relatives of the victims. His defiance shifted into detachment as the judgment began: Mladić played with his fingers and nodded occasionally, looking initially relaxed.

The verdict was disrupted for more than half an hour when he asked the judges for a bathroom break. After he returned, defence lawyers requested that proceedings be halted or shortened because of his high blood pressure. The judges denied the request. Mladić then stood up shouting “this is all lies” and “I’ll fuck your mother”. He was forcibly removed from the courtroom. The verdicts were read in his absence.

Interesting how they go for the mother, isn’t it. Duterte called Obama “son of a whore.” It’s always a woman’s fault really.

Men and boys were the victims at Srebrenica though.

The one-time fugitive from international justice faced 11 charges, two of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and four of violations of the laws or customs of war. He was cleared of one count of genocide, but found guilty of all other charges. The separate counts related to “ethnic cleansing” operations in Bosnia, sniping and shelling attacks on besieged civilians in Sarajevo, the massacre of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and taking UN personnel hostage in an attempt to deter Nato airstrikes.

The trial took 530 days spread out over four years, with more than 600 people testifying.

Relatives of victims flew into the Netherlands to attend the hearing, determined to see Mladić receive justice decades after the end of the war in which more than 100,000 people were killed.

Among those present was Fikret Alić, the Bosnian who was photographed as an emaciated prisonerbehind the wire of a prison camp in 1992. “Justice has won and the war criminal has been convicted,” he said after the verdict. Others were reduced to tears by the judge’s description of past atrocities.

Fikret Alic holds a copy of Time magazine which featured his emaciated image on its cover in 1992. He was outside court when Mladic was sentenced to life in prison for atrocities perpetrated during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war

Phil Nijhuis/AP

There are still people who think he’s a hero though.

The hearing, broadcast live, was followed closely in Bosnia. The Bosnian prime minister, Denis Zvizdić, said the verdict “confirmed that war criminals cannot escape justice regardless of how long they hide”.

In Lazarevo, the Serbian village where Mladić was arrested in 2011, residents dismissed the guilty verdicts as biased. One, Igor Topolic, said: “All this is a farce for me. He [Mladić] is a Serbian national hero.”

Mladić’s home village of Bozinovici retains a street named after the former general, where he is praised as a symbol of defiance and national pride.

That’s what “national pride” does to people.

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