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Prosecutors Say Mladic Guilty Of War Crimes 'Beyond Reasonable Doubt'

Mladic Trial Begins In The Haguei
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May 16, 2012
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic went on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on May 16 over alleged atrocities, including leading the slaughter of 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995 and the seige of Sarajevo. Mladic, now 70, listened intently as prosecutors made their opening remarks at the trial, the last of a main protagonist of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. (Reuters video)

WATCH: Ratko Mladic's trial begins In The Hague

Amid tense courtroom scenes, prosecutors at the former Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal say the evidence shows "beyond reasonable doubt" that Ratko Mladic implemented a campaign to exterminate Muslims, Croats, and other non-Serbs during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Prosecutors made the statement as the trial of the ex-Bosnian Serb military chief got under way on May 16 at the international criminal tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands.

Mladic, 70, is facing 11 counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He has denied wrongdoing.

The former Bosnian Serb military chief appeared defiant as he entered the courtroom, flashing a thumbs-up and clapping his hands to supporters.

During the hearing, he made eye contact with one of the Bosnian Muslim women in the audience and ran a hand across his throat.

The gesture led the presiding judge to hold a brief recess and order an end to "inappropriate interactions."

In his opening statement, prosecutor Dermot Groome said that he would "present evidence that will show beyond reasonable doubt the hand of Mr. Mladic in each of these crimes."

Mladic is accused of commanding the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, an event which is considered to be Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

He is also charged with orchestrating the 44-month siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces that sparked the war.

The conflict left an estimated 100,000 people dead and more than 2.2 million displaced.

'Criminal Goals'

Prosecutor Groome maintained that Mladic had helped lead the campaign to slaughter Muslims and other non-Serbs in Bosnia as part of a scheme to create a "Greater Serbia."

"Four days ago marked two decades since Ratko Mladic became the commander of the main staff of the army of Republika Srpska, the VRS, an army created, at least in name, on that day," Groome said. "On that day, Mladic began his full participation in a criminal endeavor that was already in progress.

"On that day, he assumed the mantle of realizing, through military might, the criminal goals of ethnically cleansing much of Bosnia."

Mladic has refused to enter pleas to the charges, but he has denied wrongdoing, saying he acted to defend Serbs in Bosnia.

He has dismissed the charges against him as "monstrous" and says he is too ill to stand trial.

The court has entered a "not guilty" plea on his behalf.

Experts say the trial could last up to three years. If convicted, Mladic faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbs' wartime political leader and associate of Mladic, is already undergoing trial at the same court.

Both men were indicted together in 1995 and face identical charges. Their cases were split when Karadzic was captured in Serbia in 2008 and taken to The Hague.

Mladic was captured three years later, also in Serbia, after 16 years as an indicted fugitive, most of which he spent in hiding.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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Comment Sorting
by: Miksa from: Melbourne
May 16, 2012 09:31
In Response

by: Bob from: Canada
May 16, 2012 12:08
Miksa is deluded and should be in the Hague on trial for crimes of stupidity and arrogance.
In Response

by: BFD from: Krute
May 16, 2012 15:42
A hero who hid like a rat in basements for 16 years. May he rot in jail and then burn in hell with all the rest of his "commrades"!
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
May 17, 2012 00:10
The war crimes tribunal will help identify exactly what Ratko Mladic was.

by: Jack from: US
May 16, 2012 13:40
Mladic is honest and brave man, who defended his people against murderous Muslim mobs. Mladic is the hero, not villain. The true criminals who instigated Balkan wars are in Washington
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
May 16, 2012 19:30
Yeah, yeah, and according to you the Earth is flat and pigs can fly, right?

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