A mural of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic is seen on a building in Gacko, Bosnia and Herzegovina November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
By Daria Sito-Sucic
SARAJEVO (Reuters) – In the 1990s he was the burly, brash general leading nationalist Bosnian Serbs towards a seemingly sweeping victory in Bosnia’s war. Two decades later, he was reduced to an ailing old man awaiting judgment on genocide charges in a U.N. court.
A United Nations tribunal (ICTY) in The Hague will issue its verdict for Ratko Mladic, 74, on Wednesday in one of the highest profile war crimes cases since the post-World War Two Nuremberg trials of Germany’s Nazi leadership.
Radovan Karadzic, political leader of Bosnia’s Serbs in the 1992-95 war, and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who armed and funded Bosnian Serb forces, were tried on the same charges. The ICTY convicted Karadzic in 2016 and jailed him for 40 years. Milosevic died in his cell in 2006 before his trial ended.
Defiant until the close of his five-year trial, Mladic, 74, desperately tried to postpone the verdict. His lawyers persistently accused the ICTY of denying him proper medical care. They asked for him to be treated in Serbia or Russia, but were rebuffed.
Prosecutors requested a life sentence for the man who critics called the “Butcher of Bosnia”. His lawyers called for his acquittal and release, arguing he never approved mass killings of Muslim or Croat civilians in Bosnia’s vicious, often neighbourhood war and was a victim of Western anti-Serb bias.