Until very recently, the establishment, organization, structure, funding, and criminal convictions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia were unambiguously accepted as deserved justice over people who committed war crimes in the most significant conflict in Europe since World War II. It seemed to many that this structure, under the auspices of the United Nations, was a well-oiled mechanism in international criminal law. The purpose of the paper is to approach critically some of the facts in the case against general Ratko Mladic, questioning the impartiality of the court and the justice of the obtained verdicts.
Table of Contents:
2. The procedure
3. The process
4. The verdict
Criminals or heroes are the defendants of the International Tribunal in The Hague? This question will always have at least three answers depending on the ethnicity of the respondent.
Undisputed, however, are several facts. Firstly, the transfer of war criminals became a bargaining chip to start accession negotiations with some of the former Yugoslav republics to the European Union. With the transfer of General Ante Gotovina in 2005, this is Croatia, and in 2011 Serbia played its trick (it turned out not so successfully) with the extradition of General Ratko Mladic. Secondly, trading in testimony turns into a lucrative business that has led a number of former members of paramilitary troops to obtain residence abroad in exchange for false testimony and prosecutors have “obtained” the necessary evidence for indictments.
The most compromising turns out this practice for prosecution in the case of Vojislav Seselj. He manages to discredit the false witnesses and ultimately is acquitted by the tribunal of all charges. Thirdly, the practice of “bargain with prosecutors” became contagious for much of the defendants, bringing their minimum sentences for involvement in proven serious crimes. The mechanism is as follows: recognition of “culpability” on one of the charges (and in most cases they are at least on 8-9 points), and then the accusations against others automatically ceased. It is this procedure that has been applied in the trial against Bilyana Plavsic, Bosnian commander Nasser Orac and many others.
Until very recently, the establishment, organization, structure, funding, and judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia were unambiguously accepted as deserved justice over people who committed war crimes in the most significant conflict in Europe since World War II. It seemed to many that this structure, under the auspices of the United Nations, was a well-oiled mechanism in international criminal law.
The assessment was mainly due to informative media publications and by authors strongly biased towards one of the parties to the conflict. Serious analytical studies were considerably rarely over a period of 25 years in which the tributal exists. This is more than three times over the entire duration of the conflict, suggesting at least a poor and ineffective organization of work and a hidden impetus – the tribunal’s huge administration to continue to receive its excessive remunerations. By comparison, we will point out that the Nuremberg trials and the Tokyo trial were organized and conducted for about two to three years in a much larger military conflict of about 50 million victims. Only this comparison is enough to raise doubts about the overall functioning of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The Hague tribunal is the kind of political tribunals created after World War II, but in a much milder version. It was established in 1993 as a United Nations structure with the Resolution 827 of the Security Council. The full name of this institution is “International Tribunal for prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991”.
It is conceived and implemented as an instrument of situational policy. Behind the request to become an effective model for the implementation of international humanitarian law, ad hoc justice in the sense of a temporary, established on a specific occasion, under extraordinary circumstances or for a particular person. The court ad hoc, as it remains outside the accepted norms of justice, not a real court, and according to some researchers – a tool of political reprisals.
The Hague tribunal turns out to be anything but a model for imposing liberal legislation. Its emergence is a classic example of diplomatic impotence and the use of a “legal ideal” to advance a certain political and legal agenda.
It is a fact that the tribunal was created at the request of Justice Minister and later Foreign Minister of United Germany, Klaus Kinkel – representative of a country which is not a member of the Security Council. The other interesting fact is that the Russian diplomatic representative at the UN voted for, which subsequently changed diametrically, along with the Russian position on the legitimacy and work of the tribunal. Obviously in 1993 was not expected what followed.
Ever since its formation, the purpose of the tribunal and its responsibilities are extremely unrealistic for civil conflicts with hardly identifiable actors. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (integrating the previous three ones) refers to the treatment of war prisoners and war crimes only in the context of inter-state conflicts, but not civil wars.
There is also a dispute between lawyers in international criminal law about the legitimacy of the Hague tribunal: according to some it may be the result of a decision by the UN Assembly, according to others, by the Security Council. Significantly, states like India, Chile and a dozen others do not recognize it.
There are a number of controversial moments about the specifics of administrative procedures and funding. The tribunal must complete its work in 2012 and it will continue until the end of 2017 with a budget that has not been voted on. Indeed, the tribunal’s finance finances exceeded those voted by the United Nation. The witnesses become a problem as well. The prosecutor’s office has repeatedly resort to the use of proven war criminals who have been summoned as witnesses against inconvenient politicians who have virtually no real guilt for war crimes. It even creates something like a stock exchange where stock-defaming shares are traded on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The focus of the proposed article falls discussion on the case of General Ratko Mladic trial which proved not only symptomatic of the nature of the work of the international court, but one of the most expensive in the history of the tribunal-according to the latest data just over 2 million Euros.
General Ratko Mladic is the last of superiors political and military leaders-emblems of the Yugoslav wars of 1991-1995 g, which is facing the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. His verdict at first instance is the penultimate in the history of the tribunal as such.
Unlike the others, Mladic’s distincts is that for the first time the role of the Serbian state as an “accomplice” in the crimes is totally ignored. Mladic is found guilty of all charges except for some cases of genocide in certain municipalities. This provoked a serious debate and a great deal of frustration among a number of observers.
As well as for evaluating his actions Mladic largely gets what he wants – Autonomous Region of Bosnian Serbs. He is adored in Republika Srpska. His portrait adorns the walls of bars and office buildings in Bosnia and Serbia, his name chanted at football matches. Even the Hague tribunal chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, admits that sometimes “conflicts and atrocities can acquire their own logic”. But it is a fact that in 2017 inter-religious tensions in Bosnia are greater than ever after the war. All the republics that participated in the conflict are settling in the comfort zone of mutual hatred, which is by accident and financially beneficial for their political class at the helm.
Enlighten public in the last months of 2017 facts about the financial costs throughout the criminal proceedings against the military leader of the Bosnian Serbs are shocking. Just over two million Euros cost the Hague tribunal, Republika Srpska and Serbia the protection of Mladic, plus the cost of visiting his relatives in custody and personal expenses. This amount has not been added to the cost of prosecutors and their support staff, which, according to one of Mladic’s lawyers, Miodrag Stojanovic, are several times more. The tribunal refuses to give a precise account of the cost of the prosecution.
Experts describe Mladic’s trial, not only as one of the most difficult but also the most expensive in the history of the tribunal – just over six million euros. According to the internal working classification, the case against Mladic (as well as those against Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic) belongs to the so-called category “A” – with the greatest degree of difficulty, which is why the employees’ fees are the highest. To be rational in our assessment, it is undeniable that the processes against the top leaders in the political and military hierarchy prove to be the most profitable for prosecutors, judges and lawyers. These are the court proceedings with the longest duration. Each day brings financial dividends for those involved in the case.
For example, according to lawyer Stojanovic, for only one year of the so called pre-trial/preparatory period, legal defense of Mladic costs to the tribunal at 10,000 euros per month – for three lawyers, plus 8000 Euros per month for their assistants (eight in total). In the next true court stage, fees skyrocket almost double – € 21,000 a month for lawyers and € 15,000 per month for their assistants. Actually this second stage of the process lasts 47 months – from May 2012 – to April 2016, amounting to a sum of 1.692 million euros.
Additional interest is also provoked by the facts about the sources of this funding. They are three – the ICTY itself, Serbia and Republika Srpska in BiH. Of these, the Serbian state pays most – a total of 53,000 euros – personal support for Mladic in detention and for plane tickets to his relatives to The Hague. The ICTY spends about 20,000 euros – mainly fees for expertise and witness testimony. The process costs at least Republika Srpska – about 10,250 euros personal expenses of the defendant. In the end, it turns out that the ICTY is a good money-making machine. The case runs within 530 days. More than 550 the number of summoned witnesses and about 10,000 is the number of physical evidence adduced.
The judges’ Board involves Alfonso Orie (chairman), Beikon Molotto and Christoph Fluge. Out of the three most noteworthy is the Dutch judge Orie, remembered for his fierce abolyutsionizam regarding the Serbian leadership under the leadership of Slobodan Milosevic in the 90s of last century. It was during his judiciary that the verdicts of a significant number of senior Serbian political leaders on war crimes in Vukovar and Srebrenica were issued.
Despite protests from the defense on the degree of impartiality of Judge Orie in the light of his previous court cases, the tribunal did not remove him. What is more, ICTY sets him up for the best possible choice of a judge able to cope with the case. Dutch magazine Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch Reformed Daily) described him as calm, pragmatic and balanced judge. 
Orie often dares to violate the norms of the dominant in the work of the tribunal Anglo- Saxon system of common law by applying methods characteristic of the model of functioning Dutch courts – namely, to question the witnesses by himself. According to legal experts, this approach significantly increases the efficiency of ICTY work.
The first indictment against General Ratko Mladic, a former commander of Republika Srpska’s army, was raised in 1995 by Judge Richard Goldstone, immediately after the fall of Srebrenica. The same indictment also includes the name of Radovan Karadzic. With a correction of October 2002, initiated by Carla Del Ponte, the prosecution against Mladic gained publicity. According to the final version, Mladic is accused of 11 points: two for genocide; five of crimes against humanity and four of violations of the laws and practices of war, all committed in the period 1992-1995 on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thus, Mladic became legal responsible for participating in four “joint criminal acts”, together with Radovan Karadzic, Biljana Plavsic, Slobodan Milosevic, Momcilo Kraishnik and other Bosnian Serb leaders, members of the Serbian Democratic Party of Karadzic, as well as Serb paramilitary forces, volunteer groups and other subversive elements. The indictment also stated that under the direct authority of the Mladic forces of the Liberation Army of Republika Srpska captured and detained over 200 UN personnel hostage in order to prevent future attacks by NATO on the sites where the hostages were held.
Besides joint, Mladic bear individual responsibility as a “most senior” officer subordinated directly to the Presidency of Republika Srpska. He is responsible for “planning and directing all operations of the Bosnian Serb Army under the direct control of Mladic”.
As for the genocide charge we need to make further clarification. The ICTY identifies two types of genocide, particularly in terms of how it is performed. The first is the one in which the ideologists of national socialism, such as Hitler and Goebbels, have been accused, namely of political incitement to genocide, without personally set foot in a concentration camp or to attend the mass executions of Jews. Radovan Karadzic’s accusation of genocide is precisely that.
The second type concerns the direct participants and perpetrators of such a crime, such as Dr. Mengele from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp during the Second World War, or Croatian commander Fra Tomislav Filipovic, known as Fra Satan of the Jasenovac camp. The case of Mladic falls into this second category of genocide. Regardless of whether he issued an order for ethnic cleansing in Srebrenica and other Bosnian municipalities, the ICTY’s judiciary still maintains that Mladic is behind mass murders during the BiH war.
The defense team representing Ratko Mladic is composed of three lawyers: Branko Lukic, Miodrag Stojanovic and Dragan Ivetich supported by eight assistant. The saga about the appointment of a suitable attorney composition lasts about a month in June 2011 and is marked by deep divisions between the court and the accused in this matter. Initially, after being arrested and transferred to The Hague, former military leader of Bosnian Serbs insisted his lawyer to be the leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj, also on trial in The Hague.
Seselj has been in Hague since 2003, accused of committing murders, inhumane deeds, pursuing political, racial and religious grounds, extermination, and attacks on civilians in the territory of Croatia and Bosnia. Of course, such a desire turns out to be totally unacceptable to court, and Mladic gets the right to select a lawyer team from a list of seven names. Until then, his court-appointed legal counsel is Aleksandar Aleksic, that Mladic refused to cooperate with. Unlike the case of Karadzic’s defense, accused here alone compile a list of lawyers from which to choose. The names of the legal counselors approved subsequently by the court also appear in that list.
Mladic’s second claim for advocates also overcame fiasco in court, for which he refused to appear initially, and lately to speak at a hearing where prosecutors read his indictment. The prosecution in the trial of Ratko Mladic is composed of three American lawyers Peter McCloskey, Alan Tieger and Dermot Groom. All three experienced in the tribunal courtroom in other emblematic cases. Alan Tiger, Chief Prosecutor in the Karadzic case; Dermot Groum – the prosecutor in the Milosevic case, in the Bosnian part, as well as in the cases against Milan Lukic and Jovica Stanisic.
2. The procedure
General Ratko Mladic was arrested on May 26, 2011 Around his detention conspiratorial circulate two hypotheses in the public domain. According to one, alleged capture takes place on Serbian territory, in the village of Lazarevo, 90 km from Belgrade, by special forces of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The operation is being undertaken after an informant directs the police to “a person who looks very much like Mladic”. The detainee presents documents in the name of Milorad Komadic. After DNA expertise it turns out that it is one and the same person. Mladic has a paralyzed right hand and a poor overall psycho-physical condition, most likely due to three strokes and two infarcts, according to reports by the family lawyer Saljic.
Serbian president at the time – Boris Tadic in an interview with The Associated Press categorically rejects the thesis that Serbian authorities knew long ago where the former commander of Bosnian Serb forces, but were orchestrated his capture so as to boost the accession talks of Serbia with the EU.
It is well known that Mladic’s capture is a precondition for Serbia’s accession to the European Union. It is on this occasion that the European Commission states that the act will be a testimony of the country’s willingness to move forward towards membership of the Union. According to the second hypothesis, confirmed by several Bosnian and Croatian daily newspapers referring to Serbian police sources, Mladic’s capture is a result of a preliminary deal and long diplomatic talks. It is alleged that Mladic arrives in Lazarevo only two days earlier. Previously, he lived in the Belgrade neighborhood of Six Capra, where homes occupy mainly former officers. In Lazarevo he sometimes visits his relatives, mainly in family celebrations. In front of a journalist from the Croatian newspaper Vecerni List, who visited Lazarevo on the day of detention, local villagers commented that Mladic was arrested somewhere else and then transferred to Lazarevo. 
The second hypothesis is also thoroughly investigated by the British “Sunday Telegraph”, who published the information of a Western diplomat who wished to be anonymous. “Unlike the action against Ben Laden, Mladic’s arrest was a completely staged event. This was not the result of police work, but of diplomatic negotiations through which the conditions for surrender were negotiated for a whole year. The agreement was reached when the Serbian secret service (which at least had maintained contact with Mladic) is appealing to Mladic’s weakest point – his family”. 
According to the same anonymous source, French, British and Germans are involved in the negotiations, and the Serbs take on the details of family care, the payment of other outstanding pensions to Mladic and possibly a decent burial. Mladic is dissuaded from committing suicide because mythology would be better off to die as a victim of The Hague than as a persecuted beast The Serbian newspaper Blic adds that when the agents of the Serbian Security and information Agency were sent for Mladic’s arrest, he behaves more than
hospitable with them, generously, and then voluntarily, without resistance, following them.
Ratings for Mladic’s capture are extremely polar, especially in Serbia. According to a study commissioned by the government’s National Council for Cooperation with The Hague tribunal found that 78% of Serbs would not have issued Mladic to the authorities. Many comment on how, despite his crimes, he freely moves in public places in Belgrade, visits expensive restaurants and even goes on football matches until they arrest Slobodan Milosevic when he had to disappear. And today a part of the Serbs believe that Mladic simply defended their national interests. The Serbian agency B 92 comes out with a more detailed description of the case, falsified in figures. According to the experts every single citizen of Serbia is losing about 159 Euro monthly because of the Mladic’s freedom. It is estimated that 12 million Euros are paid for the salaries of the serbian citizens, directly involved into the procedure of his detention. On May 31, 2011, Mladic was transferred to the Detention Center at Scheveningen.
3. The process
The trial against Ratko Mladic was officially launched on May 16, 2012. The first hearing on which prosecutors are reading the indictment was boycotted by Mladic. He is physically present but refuses to adhere to the discipline and rules established in the courtroom. Several times he ignores the instructions of Judge Alfonso Orri not to come into contact with the audience in the courtroom. He refuses to plead “not guilty” or “guilty” because the court has repeatedly rejected his claims to appoint certain lawyers to represent him. After refusing to hear his allegations and officially declare “not guilty”, Ratko Mladic was removed from the courtroom. According to the Statute, Judge Orri pleads “innocent” to all charges in his name.
After about a two-month pause because of “irregularities” by the prosecution concerning the transmission of documents to the defense in August 2012 trial was renewed. The prosecution submit a new proposal related to the separation of the indictment into two parts.
This means two separate trials. The prospect puts the defense of Mladic in an extremely difficult situation, because while preparing one indictment, another prosecutor’s staff will prepare a second, but the defense team is only one. Furthermore, the imposed prosecution practice to bring thousands of papers and materials from which only 1 or 2% can be effectively utilized, makes the situation of Mladic’s lawyer almost hopeless.
The proposal to separate the indictment brings other negatives for the accused and significantly complicates his situation. If until now, he is recognized as a participant in the “joint criminal enterprise” and bears the legal responsibility for it, now Mladic will be responsible for its participation in two conspiracy – one for the “whole of Bosnia” and only one for “Srebrenica”.
There is another significant motive for this prosecutor’s insistence, namely the ill health of the accused. The bad taste of the unfinished trial against Milosevic was still bitter of the prosecution, since from a legal point of view, Milosevic died innocent. The fear that an excessively long process against the sick Mladic could (not) end in an analogous way provoked them to look for albeit small, but partial “victory”.
It proved controversial and another law imposed in the work of the ICTY. The decision to operate the process as possible indoors is justified on the grounds safety and security of witnesses. They in turn are classified into two main groups – “open”, i.e., non-anonymous, who testify as indirect witnesses of crimes, and at the same time in several court cases and “closed”, i. e., “protected” witnesses, whose identity remains hidden from the court, and from the accused and his attorneys secretly remain their domicile, as well. According to Alexander Mesyev, the applied judicial tactics aimed at imposing untraceability and proven practices of frank “redemption” of testimony by the prosecutor’s office in exchange for residence and development in various European cities. A brief reference to the official witness register of the Prosecutor’s Office, published on the Tribunal’s website, shows that out of all 164 summoned, almost 95% are familiar to the court in other cases, incl. those of Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, where they give similar testimony.
Michael Rose, Former UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina testifies to Mladic’s absolute control over artillery and snipers during the siege of Sarajevo. According to Rose, without the knowledge and permission of Mladic, nothing happened on the battlefield.
In a cross-examination of this witness by lawyer Branko Lukic, Rose reaffirmed that deputy head of the Bosnian presidency Ejup Ganic “organized secret police whose tasks are to deliberately create tension in Sarajevo”.
In response to the suggestion of lawyer Lukic that Bosniaks support the continuation of the war, Rose acknowledged that authorities in Sarajevo abandon the peace process at some point from 1994 onwards after the US began to arm and train their troops, considering that the continuation of the war “works” in their interest. 
The strongest echo produce testimony on the part of Srebrenica. Two summoned prosecution witnesses – Peter Salapura – former chief of the intelligence directorate to the Bosnian Serb army and Dragomir Keserovich – former security officer in the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb army acknowledged that the information about what happened in Srebrenica reaches them at the end of 1995, Salapura, confirms that Milorad Pelemis, commander of the Tenth diversion division, acknowledges that his squad has participated in the “purges” in Srebrenica, but despite this, Salapura did not initiate an investigation. Both witnesses do not firmly confirm the prosecution hypothesis that Mladic was informed of the mass murder in Srebrenica as early as July 1995. 
In this logical line are the testimony of Manojlo Milovanovic presented as the right hand of Mladic. Milovanovic claims that the military commander of the Bosnian Serbs warned the political leadership of Republika Srpska two months earlier for possible genocidal crimes in different locations, in case of a hard course for war with Bosniaks.
In the second part of the hearing, Milovanovic also commented on Karadzic’s command to soldiers to create an “unbearable situation without hope for survival” in the Srebrenica and Zepa regions. The witness qualify order as illegal and states that Mladic himself is also opposed, even trying to change it, especially in the part about attacks on civilians. 
Another military expert, Richard Butler, who works at the tribunal’s prosecution office, testifies that he has never seen evidence confirming that the Bosnian Serb army commander personally ordered the killings in Srebrenica. What he saw was only an order issued and signed by Mladic asking for the fuel needed to transport the remains of the victims of Srebrenica, which were initially buried elsewhere. The latter under international criminal law, is not considered a crime.
Regarding the widely discussed thesis that Mladic directly issue an order to liquidate the civilian population of Srebrenica, Richard Butler’s comment is categorical. On the record of the Mladic meeting with the Bosnian Serbs and representatives of the UN peacekeeping forces from the evening of 11th July-12th at the Hotel Fontana, the exact words of the accused are: “Bosnians will survive or they will disappear,” in a sense of evacuation from the area, not an extermination, as is often speculated. Butler supports this statement with documents for the mobilization of a dozen buses and delivery of fuel needed for the evacuation of civilians from Srebrenica. 
The most dramatic, as in the other processes, are the stories of the survivors in the mass executions. In the case of Mladic, a protected witness codenamed RM-253, tells how he rescues trapped beneath the bodies of the murdered civilians. The same story is also present in the cases of Karadzic and Milosevic. Similar is the fate of another protected witness RM-346, who also survives in such a situation but in another locality – near Zvornik (military camp Branevo). It’s surprising how many times the same story can be repeated. 
The case “Mladic” undergoes frequent breaks due to ill health of the accused. The lawyers even made a claim for access to complete medical records for treatment of Mladic, claiming his life was in danger due to “negligence” by the staff in the unit detention unqualified to provide medical assistance necessary to protect and safeguard the lives of inmates such as Mladic.
For two years, the defense has been trying unsuccessfully to obtain a court order to have the defendant examined by Russian specialists at Bakulev Medical Center, Russia. In turn, in 2017 the Russian state also gives an official guarantee of the International Criminal Tribunal for the provisional release of the accused, ensuring that he will not disappear or escape and that will be returned to The Hague tribunal by request. The court refused treatment outside the Netherlands.
Two weeks before the beginning of the defense, the court also rejected the lawyers’ request that two of the accusations-genocide and war crimes have to be dropped due to lack of evidence adduced by the prosecution.
The defense started its part on May 19, 2014. It adheres to the denial of all allegations, claiming that Mladic was executing foreign orders. His lawyers impose the image of a patriot who defends his people. They also denounce the charge of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. The defense has 207 hours to interview about 160 witnesses, many of whom have already testified to Karadzic’s case.
Some of the former Bosnian Serb army soldiers – Mile Slade and Predrag Tapara – confirm that in the siege of Sarajevo, the forces of the Bosnian Serb army do not fire civilians, but only respond to attacks from the Bosnian army, which deliberately occupy positions among the civilian population occupying public buildings. Both do not deny, however, that cases of mass executions were committed by police and paramilitary units, which are under the direct control not of Mladic but of the President of Republika Srpska-Radovan Karadzic.
In an attempt to prove that Mladic does not have the authority to dispose of paramilitary forces, whose members carry out the majority of war crimes lawyer Ivetich present in the courtroom a document stating that the commander of the Bosnian Serb army has asked the Karadzic and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bosnian Serbs to take action on the withdrawal of the paramilitary parts of Zeljko Rinatovic-Arkan, who mass killed Muslims in the area of Sanski Bridge.
For Mladic’s problems in the summer of 1992 with paramilitary forces, Dragomir Andan the ex-police inspector at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, submitted arguments, as well. Sent in July 1992 in Zvornik to neutralize one of them called “Yellow Wasp” Anda reports personally to Mladic, who admits that the paramilitary forces remains the biggest problem without elimination of which he will not be able to create a clear frontline .
The problem with control of Muslim paramilitary forces also proved significant for the escalation of tensions in the municipalities mentioned by the prosecution as “victim” of the genocide. Such is the municipality of Prijedor, for which defense witnesses (Zdravka Karlicha, Bosko Mandic, etc.) admit that provocations were staged by “the Muslim paramilitary units” .
In connection with the charge of hostage saga military forces of UNPROFOR, most of the Mladic’s witnesses (including the military journalist Snezana Lalovic) confirm that the purpose to which they are held is primarily dawnward pressure to stop the NATO bombing in the Republika Srpska in 1995. 
The final plea of the indictment and defense runs between 5 and 15 December 2016. Both sides seek to mutually refute their claims, emphasizing the misinterpretation of facts and documents.Closing arguments of the prosecution and defense take place between 5 and December 15, 201. Both sides seek mutual to contradict their claims, focusing on wrong interpretation of facts and documents. Prosecutors confirm the accusation of Mladic’s involvement in four “joint criminal enterprise” and insist on a life sentence. At that time Mladic’s 74 years in extremely poor health. The arguments for Mladic and Karadzic’s joint involvement in crimes for which they have been prosecuted are categorically rejected by the defense. The two have been in a tense relationship with each other, with different views on the military situation in BiH and the adequate political strategies for resolving the conflict.
4. The verdict
Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life imprisonment after the tribunal has convicted him of ten of the eleven allegations of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica committed during the military conflict in the former Yugoslavia in 1992-1995.
The date is November 22, 2017, about a year after closing arguments. During the reading of the sentence, Mladic is restless and explosive. After the first 45 minutes he was moved to another room, where observed the procedure on a monitor.
In the spirit of the tradition of the ICTY, the court’s final decision is in an impressive volume of about 700 pages divided into four parts. The tribunal ruled that Mladic “contributed greatly” to the genocide committed in Srebrenica in order to destroy the Muslim population, “personally command” the continued bombing of Sarajevo and was part of a “joint criminal enterprise” aimed at clearing Bosnia from Croats and Muslims. He is only justified on the first point – about genocide against Bosnian Muslims and Croats. The court reaffirms that Bosnian Serbs commit crimes on ethnic grounds in six villages from May to December 1992, but considers that they can not be classified as genocide.
Although Mladic is charged with committing “joint criminal enterprise” along with Milosevic and his Belgrade collaborators at the reading of the verdict, the judges did not mention the name of the former Serbian president. This, according to some observers, can be interpreted as a posthumous amnesty to Milosevic .
The opinion of Mladic’s lawyers and his son is categorical – the decision is unfair, contradicts the facts and will be appealed at second instance.
Ratko Mladic’s sentence is the penultimate sentence of the Hague tribunal. On December 31, 2017, after 20 years of work, the Tribunal ended his activity. Residual proceedings, such as appealing Radovan Karadzic and Mladic’s sentences, will be redirected to a smaller court in The Hague, re-established by the UN Security Council.
The international community’s reactions to Mladic’s life sentence are mixed. Serbian President Alexander Vukic defines it as predetermined and expected. President of Republika Srpska, BiH reacts sharply, defending Mladic as a patriot, fulfilling his duty. Bosnian Muslims’ reactions are predictably positive, albeit unsatisfied for lack of recognition by the Bosnian Serb military leader as guilty of genocide charges in several Bosnian villages. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, accepts Mladic’s sentence as a huge victory for justice and a warning to all perpetrators of such crimes that they will not get away with the criminal process, regardless of their position in the political and military hierarchy.
Whatever the assessment is, it should be seen primarily as a message to those in power, especially considering the start preparations for the investigation of war crimes committed in Syria.