UN Prosecutors: Uphold Mladic’s Life Sentence for Srebrenica Massacre

26 Aug

UN Prosecutors: Uphold Mladic’s Life Sentence for Srebrenica Massacre

U.N. prosecutors urged United Nations judges Wednesday to uphold former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic’s life sentence for crimes, including genocide, which they say Mladic personally oversaw.His lawyers, meanwhile, called for an acquittal or retrial.Mladic, 78, was commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. A U.N. tribunal convicted him in November 2017 of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.More than 8,000 ethnic Bosniak men and boys were killed, and up to 35,000 Bosniak women, children and elderly people were forcibly displaced from two villages.“Srebrenica was Mladic’s operation, and the trial chamber was right to conclude that he was criminally responsible for these crimes,” prosecutor Laurel Baig said Wednesday, the second and final day of appeal hearings.A man walks past a graffiti that reads ‘Ratko Mladic Hero’ in Belgrade, Serbia, Aug. 25, 2020.Lawyers for Mladic claim he was not involved in genocide, asserting the “charge of genocide was made out of thin air.”“Any illegal killings in Srebrenica that were outside of combat are reprehensible, but they are not tied to Mr. Mladic,” defense lawyer Dragan Ivetic said Tuesday.The appeals were held by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, created by the U.N. in 2010 to phase out tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.Mladic was arrested in 2011 in Serbia and extradited to The Hague after evading arrest for 16 years. His original trial took more than five years under the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.Mladic also was convicted for his involvement in crimes in a monthslong siege of Sarajevo, and what prosecutors have called ethnic cleansing campaigns to push Bosniaks and Croats out of Bosnian Serb-claimed territory. Mladic was acquitted on a genocide charge related to the campaigns, which prosecutors want overturned in the appeals proceedings.Mladic’s appeals hearing, originally scheduled for March, was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and Mladic’s own reported health issues.No date has been set for the decision, which is likely to come in 2021, Reuters reported.Bosnians marked 25 years since the massacre July 11. A total 100,000 people were killed, and 2.2. million were displaced during the war itself.

SJ

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