World news

UN court convicts Mladic of genocide over Bosnia's horrors

Satellite trucks and cameras are set up outside the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal yesterday. Picture by Peter Dejong, Associated Press

The United Nations' Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has convicted Bosnian Serb military chief General Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to life in prison for atrocities during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Mladic (75) was found guilty of commanding forces responsible for crimes including the worst atrocities of the war – the 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 the Second World War.

A three-judge panel at the court, formally known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, convicted Mladic of 10 out of 11 counts in a dramatic climax to a groundbreaking effort to seek justice for the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Presiding judge Alphons Orie read out the judgment after ordering Mladic out of the courtroom for the final verdict over an angry outburst.

Mothers of Srebrenica's victims clapped when the convictions were read out. Mladic's son Darko said: "I'm not surprised. The court was totally biased from the start."

Bosniaks and Serbs watched from near and far as the long-awaited climax approached. Wednesday's judgment marks the end of the final trial at the tribunal, which was set up in 1993 while fierce fighting was still raging in Bosnia.

Emotions ran high outside the courtroom, with a small skirmish reflecting lingering tensions between Serbs and Bosniaks over the trial and the war.

Mladic looked relaxed despite ailing health, greeting lawyers and giving a thumbs-up to photographers in court. He nodded regularly as presiding Judge Orie read out descriptions of atrocities by Bosnian Serb forces, one by one.

Then Mladic's lawyer asked for a delay because the general was suffering high blood pressure. The judge refused, and Mladic burst out with criticism and was ordered to leave the room.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access