18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

Mladic taunts survivors at start of genocide trial

Read Comment
16 May 2012, Wednesday /REUTERS
Twenty years after Serb forces unleashed a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, their military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic is finally going on trial on charges of masterminding atrocities throughout the country's devastating 1992-95 war.

Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic made a throat-slitting gesture to a woman who lost her son, husband and brothers in the Srebenica massacre at the start of his trial on Wednesday for some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two.

Mladic, now 70, flashed a defiant thumbs-up as he entered the courtroom - the last of the main protagonists in the Balkan wars of the 1990s to go on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.     

A hero to Serb nationalists, the "Butcher of the Balkans" to his Muslim and Croat victims, the pugnacious general eluded justice for 16 years until his capture in a cousin's farmhouse in Serbia last May.     

The list of 11 charges stemming from his actions as the Serb military commander in the Bosnian war of 1992-95 ranges from genocide to murder, acts of terror and crimes against humanity.      

He is accused of orchestrating not only the week-long massacre of 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica but also the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people were killed by snipers, machine guns and heavy artillery.     

Mladic, who refused to enter a plea, cuts a much frailer figure now than his bullish, strutting wartime persona - his defence lawyer said he had suffered three strokes and a heart attack. But he appears to have lost none of his defiance.       

In the public gallery, Munira Subasic, whose 18-year-old son, husband and brothers were killed in Srebrenica, stared at him from behind a glass barrier, crossing her wrists to imitate handcuffs.     

Mladic stared back and ran a hand across his throat. Presiding judge Alphons Orie promptly called a brief recess and ordered an end to "inappropriate interactions."     

"I thought I would see at least some remorse in his eyes when I came here," Subasic said. "But instead I saw his bloodthirstiness. I don't know how he can live with what he did, with killing so many people."     

The proceedings were broadcast live on big screens in Sarajevo, where thousands were killed by snipers or artillery while queuing for water or bread, or crossing the street.     

Hasna Hadzic, a pensioner who spent the war in Sarajevo, stopped off on her way from the market, visibly shaken.     

"I feel like crying when I think of what he has done to us: killed 8,000 in Srebrenica alone, killed people in Foca, Visegrad, our children in Sarajevo," she said, wiping tears from her face.     

"They shouldn't have put him on trial. They should have liquidated him immediately."     

"They let him walk free for 16 years," said pensioner Asim Dzemat. "The whole world let him kill us for years, and now they address him as 'Mr' Mladic, 'General' Mladic! What 'Mr'? He's a killer! It's so shameful."     

But in Pale, the mountain stronghold from which Serb forces orchestrated the siege and bombardment of the capital 16 km away, applause broke out in cafes every time Mladic appeared on the television screens.     

"Crimes were committed by all sides," said Serb student Mladen Mancic. "This is just an honourable man who defended the Serb people. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be here today."      

Mladic was in charge of the Bosnian Serb army when, over several days in July 1995, Serb fighters attacked the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia, theoretically under the protection of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers.     

Video footage shot at the time showed Mladic mingling with Muslim prisoners. Shortly afterwards, the men and boys were separated from the women, stripped of identification, and shot.     

Prosecutor Dermot Groome, beginning a two-day opening statement, said Mladic and other Bosnian Serbs had been implementing a grand plan to eliminate non-Serbs from large areas of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.     

"The prosecution will present evidence that will show beyond a reasonable doubt the hand of Mr Mladic in each of these crimes," he said.     

Prosecutors screened footage of bodies piled up on the streets of Sarajevo and people running in terror from the Serb onslaught.      

"There can be no doubt that Mladic controlled the shelling of Sarajevo," Groome said.      

"Mladic participated in a campaign of sniping and shelling against the besieged city of Sarajevo in order to spread terror among its civilian population."     

Mladic is also held responsible for the imprisonment of non-Serbs in a system of camps, including Omarska, Prijedor and Keraterm, where they were raped, abused and murdered.     

The horrors of the Sarajevo siege and the Srebrenica massacre eventually galvanised world opinion in support of the campaign of Western air strikes on Bosnian Serb targets that brought the conflict to an end.     

Mladic was indicted in 1995 along with Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbs' political leader, who is also on trial in The Hague. Yet both remained free in Serbia for more than a decade before being tracked down.     

Mladic, who was arrested last May, has dismissed the charges as "monstrous" and says he is too ill to endure a trial that could last two years or more. By the end of the hearing he looked tired, and was given medication.     

Some victims fear that time and failing health could help him avoid judgment like his mentor Slobodan Milosevic, the architect of the Balkan wars, who died in detention in 2006 - a few months before a verdict in his trial for genocide and other war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.     

Defence lawyer Branko Lukic said that after three strokes and a heart attack, Mladic "will never be ok", but that his health had been improving thanks to treatment in detention.     

It is estimated that the prosecution case alone will last 200 hours, with testimony from 411 witnesses, and defence lawyers say they have not had have enough time to review the huge case file.     

The judges said on Wednesday that prosecutors had made "very significant errors" in disclosure of evidence, and that they would consider giving the defence more time.

Why have you censored my comment made yesterday on this subject completely? Was the truth dose too much for official Turkey? Please I would like to hear your reason/s. Please send back my comment highlighting the bits (maybe all of it?) which offend 'Turkishness'! Thank you.
Talaat and Enver's soul mate
AD, aka General Sherman: I think you have a problem understanding what you read; maybe it is a language problem. Killing 10000 in 24 hours? What are you talking about? If you are referring to April 24 that is just a symbolic date that commemorates the Ottoman followed by Turkish genocide from 1890s ...
Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of the Sur Municipality in Diyarbakir. "Our grandparents, incited by others, committed wrongs,” Said in the Weekly in an exclusive interview after the Badarak in Surp Giragos. “But we, their grandchildren, will not repeat them. Not only that, but we will also not allow ...
Its amazing how my comments about the " Kurdish" issues in the 80's and 90's never seem to be published. No matter what amount lies and falsification are printed in Turkish system, truth always prevails. Lies and falsifications are what the modern Turkey was built upon. The Armenians were traitor...
In response to some of the comments and especially genewral shermN,:During the so called Turkey's peace operation in cyprus in 1974 7000 christian cypriots were exterminated in a by the Turkish Army inperiod of two weeks and 200.000 were expelled from their homes in the northern 37% of the island. T...
Comment to Armenians. Genocide did not happened only in Srebrenica but it happened all over Bosnia. For political reason it is ruled by ICJ that it happened only Srebrenica, while in other parts of Bosnia it is characterized as ethnic cleansing. It was clear aggression of another country on soverei...
@ Generalisimo Sherman, based on your name, you are one unhappy Turk that is ashamed of your Turkishness and have to act like an American that you pretend to hate. Instead of babbling about nonsense issues, stick to your Doner Kebabs, something that at least you are familiar with.
Meladic at least is standing in front of a judicial entity at a trail. During the 1919 Turkish court martial trails, Talat Pasha, one of the architects of the Armenian Genocide escaped to Berlin so the verdict of the trail by Turkish courts that sentenced him to death for his part in the Genocide co...
Saaten Maagar
An unprecedented series of lies was institutionalized by the new-born state apparatus via pseudo-historians who were instructed to rewrite the nation’s history—in the form of the famous Turkish History Thesis, whereby it was “proved” that everything good in the world had originated from the Turkish ...
Saaten Maagar
All Genocides should Stop, all mothers and fathers suffer when they see their sons die, NO matter Who, When, How, NO exeption, everybody suffers.
i have always wondered if the current gov had been in power AKP would they have intervened? i would like to think that they would have.
There can be no question that if Turkiye had not intevened in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that this would have happened to the Turkish Cypriots as well (it was already under way).
sergey, based on your name, I can only assume you are russian which makes your previous inane comment all the more hilarious? When do you plan on apologizing for the Circassian genocides or the other numerous genocides you have inflicted on Caucasian/Muslim/Turkic minorities in your country? Bear ...
sergey, there's nothing to apologize for. Armenian and Suryani traitors were deported for carrying out separatist terrorism on behalf of their russian imperialist bosses and murdering hundreds of thousands of Turks. Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Pr...
Fredric, one needs pages and pages to write all the massacres and Genocides that the Turkish people have committed throughout centuries. The Armenian Genocide is unique because it started in the late 1800s (Hamidian massacres), intensified in early 1900s with the Young Turks, officially suppressed u...
Uncle Billy
I think this murderous beast should be dragged out and hanged in front of the courthouse, while the relatives of the deceased clap and cheer their approval.
True Turk
If Mladic's 10,000 killed is considered Genocide, how come 1.5 million Armenians killed by Turkey is not.
Why are people surprised at the attitude of Mladic? What he did is nothing to compare what the Ottomans did to the Armenians and look, for 97 years Turks have gotten away with it by fabricating stories and lying.
Saaten Maagar
@fredrick, repeating lies and babbling what the Nationalist Turkish agenda has been for years has not gotten you anywhere and it sounds pathetic from now on even more. Turkish denial and fabrication of their own history is the continuation of the Genocide. Why would you sanitize and clean your archi...
Sergey, apologize for what exactly? for expelling traitors who helped Russians invade and murder Turkish people? those who died was due to typhus hunger etc, is turkey supposed to help such people? when will Russians apologize for Circassian genocide, Chechnyan genocide and bunch of other convenient...
I wonder if Turkey will find the courage to face its demons and apologize for the Armenian, Assyrian
Click here to read all user comments
WORLD  Other Titles
Divers search for hundreds still missing in Korean ferry disaster
Ex-president apologizes for UNSC refusal to stop Rwanda genocide
Saudi conservatives protest Westernisation
Algerians trickle to polls in presidential vote
Search for Malaysia Airlines jet refocuses on drone scans of seafloor
Australian premier's resignation as a sign of less, not more, corruption
UK PM's former media aide tells court he heard hacked messages
Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations
Nigeria vows to protect May's ‘African Davos' in bomb-hit capital
Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction
Doctor to be tried in Britain's first female genital mutilation court case
Prosecutor wraps up Oscar Pistorius' grilling in murder trial
Syria opposition claims has evidence of chlorine gas attack
Egypt woman prof. targets young in bid to save Brotherhood
China seizes more than 10,000 illegal guns in crackdown
Macedonians vote for new president as general election nears
Complaints of serious fraud in Afghan polls exceed total in 2009
Indonesian parties in pact, clear way for top presidential candidate
UN climate panel warns emissions rising, blurs reason
Biden to visit Kiev to show US support for Ukraine unity
Iran rejects naming new United Nations envoy after US refusal
Death toll in fighting between Syrian rivals rises to 68
Venezuelan leader meets opposition
Egyptian police say kill two Brotherhood members in shootout
Murdered girl's mom says News of the World was force for good