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Bosnian War Crimes Trial Begins

May 16, 2012

Proceedings began today in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the trial of General Ratko Mladic. Mladic, the head of the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and the last suspect from that war to be tried in the ICTY, is accused of 11 counts of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Known as the “Butcher of the Balkans,” one of the genocide charges is for his involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed over several days in a UN-designated safe zone. The second genocide charge is for his involvement in planning the ethnic cleansing campaign designed to drive Croats, Muslims, and other non-Serbs out of Bosnia to gain territory for Serbs.

Now 70 years old, Mladic remains defiant in court. He has refused to enter formal pleas in response to the charges, but also says that he is not guilty of wrongdoing. In a pre-trial hearing last year, he stated “The whole world knows who I am… I am General Ratko Mladic. I defended my people, my country… now I am defending myself” (BBC). He has also declared “I am a very old man and I am close to my end as far as my health is concerned, and I am not important… It matters what kind of legacy I will leave behind, among my people” (Reuters). In fact, many hard-core Serbian nationalists continue to regard Mladic as a hero, as described in this article in the International Herald Tribune, and they view his trial as further evidence of they ICTY’s bias against Serbs.

You can read more analysis of the trial in these articles in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and Al Jazeera. You can also view a news report, including interviews with victims and a Serb nationalist, from Al Jazeera below.

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