Friday 13 December 2019

Gruesome evidence of former Serbian general Ratko Mladic presented at UN court

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic attends his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.
Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic attends his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.
Bosnian pathologist Rifat Kesetovic examines the skulls of victims in a hospital in Tuzla, 1997. Photo: Reuters

Bruno Waterfield

DETENTION camps set up by Bosnian Serbs were "part of the system" of terror and ethnic cleansing, the UN prosecutor has alleged at the trial of Ratko Mladic in the Hague today.

"The detention camps were places of great suffering," said Dermot Groome the UN prosecutor.

"Conditions were inhuman, insufficient to sustain farm animals let alone human beings. Inmates were beaten, sometimes to death."

Mladic is charged with the massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica, the first act of genocide on European soil since the Nazi Holocaust.

Over 600 people were killed during one single massacre at the Keratem camp and the UN prosecutors will call inmates as witnesses.

"It was an integrated system of imprisonment and mistreatment to help acheive objectives (of ethnic cleansing)," said Mr Groome.

The UN prosecutor has shown video of Mladic boasting about his snipers in Sarajevo.

"Whenever I come by Sarajevo. I kill someone in passing...I go kick the hell out the Turks... I f*** them," Mladic says.

The Mladic policy "was about creating insecurity, about creating terror", the court heard.

Earlier Mladic had nodded approvingly, with a smile, when he was quoted as promising: "Sarajevo will shake".

His notebooks show that he drew up plan of military conquest and ethnic separation with Karazic including objective number five of six: "Sarajevo must either be divided or razed to the ground".

The Prosecutor showed horrific scenes from the sniping and shelling of the Bosnian capital.

"Crimes of sexual violence were an integral part of taking over territory and ethnic cleansing", said Mr Groome.

People, men and women, were raped and forced "to carry out sex acts on others including relatives".

He read out a witness statement: "The world should seek to look in our eyes. They had killed my mother, they had killed my brother. I had been raped by 50 of them."

Earlier, Mladic made throat-cutting gestures to Munira Subasic, a woman who lost 22 relatives to Bosnian Serb military forces when the enclave of Srebrenica was overrun in July 1995, as she watched the trial from the glassed off public gallery.

The UN judge warned Mladic that he would screen off his view of the public gallery after he responded with the provocative gesture to Mrs Subasic, aftre she had shaken her finger at him.

"This is the biggest butcher of the Balkans and the world,” she said earlier. “I'll look into his eyes and ask him if he repents.”

The former commander of the Bosnian Serb army appeared in court wearing a dark grey suit and tie. Looking fit and alert, Gen Mladic gave a thumbs-up to family and Serbian supporters in the public gallery.

UN prosecutors are setting out their case for his indictment on 11 counts of genocide, and war crimes allegedly carried out in the Bosnia's brutal 1992-95 civil war that killed 100,000 and left 2.2 million others homeless.

”Four days ago marked the 20th anniversary since Mladic became commander in chief of the Bosnian Serb army,” said Mr Groome, the UN prosecutor. “On that day, he assumed the mantle of the criminal goal of ethnically cleansing Bosnia. On that day he began his involvement in serious crimes.”

”By the time Mladic and his troops murdered thousands in Srebrenica ... they were well-rehearsed in the craft of murder.”

Prosecutors said that personal notebooks seized by police from Mladic’s hiding place would be an important source of evidence in the trial.

Excerpts shown in the court noted “war objectives, relationship to non-Serbian inhabitants” and the Bosnian Serb campaign “to separate from the Muslims and Croats forever".

Hand written notes, in Mladic’s hand, also noted plans to turn Sarajevo into a Serb city, with a small Muslim quarter.

Two days ahead of the trial, his lawyers filed a request for a six month adjournment of the hearing, saying they did not have enough time to prepare for the defence. The UN judge criticised prosecutors for failing to disclose evidence to the defence but allowed the trial to proceed.

Gen. Mladic, 70, is appearing in the International Criminal Court of the former Yugoslavia where Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader and commander in chief, is also on trial. He was arrested a year ago after 16 years on the run in Serbia.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News