PROSECUTOR: MLADIC KEY PERSON ON ‘ROAD TO HELL’
Mladic’s ‘road to hell’ began in the spring of 1992 with a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large swathes of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It ended in July 1995 with the killing of almost 8,000 Srebrenica men and boys, the prosecutor noted at the beginning of the closing arguments at the trial of the former VRS Main Staff commander
Ratko Mladic was the key person on the ‘road to hell and disappearance’, as Radovan Karadzic put it in October 1991 when he threatened Bosnian Muslims in the National Assembly. Karadzic promised them they would end up in hell and disappear if they decided to follow the example of Slovenia and Croatia and proclaim independence, prosecutor Alan Tieger said on the first day of the closing arguments at the trial of the former commander of the VRS Main Staff.
Mladic’s ‘road to hell’ began in the spring of 1992 with a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large swathes of Bosnia and Herzegovina followed by serious crimes against civilians. It ended in July 1995 when almost 8,000 men and boys from Srebrencia were killed.
As he launched into the prosecution’s closing argument, Tieger commented on some ‘strange allegations’ made by the defense in its final brief. According to the prosecutor, the defense tried to paint Mladic as a ‘permissive, inefficient officer who had tried to protect Muslims against people like Karadzic. But as Mladic played only a secondary role, he had less power than a Corps commander’.
In its final brief the defense argued that Mladic didn’t have any control over the commanders of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, generals Galic and Milosevic, and General Krstic, commander of the Drina Corps. The Sarajevo-Romanija Corps commanders were convicted of the artillery and sniper terror campaign in Sarajevo, while Krstic was convicted of genocide in Srebrenica.
Today the prosecutor used the familiar footage recorded on 12 July 1995 at the third meeting in the Fontana Hotel in Bratunac to contest the defense’s claims. In the video, Mladic is seen dictating to the representatives of Srebrenica refugees the conditions under which they could leave the enclave. Mladic offered the refugees from Srebrenica a choice: ‘survive or vanish’. The Drina Corps Commander General Kristin, who sat next to Mladic, never said a word. That, the prosecutor noted, clearly shows who played the dominant role.
The second ‘unusual claim’, the prosecutor went on to note, was that Mladic had disagreed with the way the Muslims had been treated. This is why, the defense argued, Karadzic ‘marginalized’ Mladic. A plethora of evidence that contradicts the allegation was called at the trial, the prosecutor stressed. To corroborate his claim the prosecutor showed a recording of Mladic traveling in a car from Pale to Han Pijesak. During the ride Mladic referred to the burned down ‘Turkish houses’ along the road. The footage also shows Mladic boasting that each time he drove along, ‘I drop by to Sarajevo and kill a couple of Turks’. That, the prosecutor clarified, showed Mladic’s ‘contempt for the victims’.
After Tieger’s introduction, Artur Traldi picked up the prosecution’s closing argument. Traldi called up the evidence on the so-called comprehensive joint criminal enterprise which covers the ethnic cleansing in large parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to achieve ‘the separation of ethnicities, cultures and worlds’. Mladic is charged with three other separate but inter-related joint criminal enterprises: the terror campaign in Sarajevo, taking UN staff hostage, and genocide in Srebrenica. The prosecutor will analyze these issues in the remaining two days it has been given to present its closing arguments.
- Case : Mladic
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