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Hague Tribunal Sets March Dates For Mladic Appeal

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic

A United Nations court at The Hague said it will hear the appeal of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, sentenced to life in prison for his role in the mass killings at Srebrenica, in March.

The court on December 16 scheduled two days of hearings for March 17-18 to hear arguments on Mladic's appeal.

Dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia, the 77-year-old Mladic is appealing his 2017 life sentence after being convicted for his role in the killings at Srebrenica, a mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslim men that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled was genocide.

Mladic was also convicted for the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina during the wars that ravaged Yugoslavia in the early 1990s as well as terrorizing the Sarajevo population by long-term shelling and sniping. He was also found guilty of taking UN soldiers hostage in 1992-95.

Mladic has maintained his innocence and is lionized by many ethnic Serbs in Serbia and Bosnia.

The court that is hearing Mladic's appeal is formally called the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, and serves as the successor court to the international tribunal that ended its work in December 2017.

Prosecutors at the Hague have also appealed Mladic’s case, seeking a reversal of his acquittal on charges of genocide in six other Bosnian municipalities.

Judge Carmel Agius, president of the Mechanism, said last week that he expects a final verdict would be handed down in the Mladic appeal by the end of 2020.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia also found Mladic's political chief, Radovan Karadzic, guilty of similar charges, including genocide, in 2016, and sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

Karadzic filed an appeal against his conviction, but it was rejected in March 2019 and his sentence was increased to life imprisonment.

In total, about 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million others displaced in the 1992-95 wars, which erupted as ethnic rivalries tore Yugoslavia apart.