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At Genocide Trial, Prosecutor Says Mladic Wanted Muslims To 'Vanish Completely'

Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic (file photo)
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic (file photo)

Prosecutors have begun their closing arguments at the genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic in The Hague.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on December 5 that Mladic helped orchestrate the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica.

Mladic is also accused of being the architect of the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, where an estimated 10,000 people were killed by shelling and snipers.

"His concern was not that Muslims might create a state, his concern was to have them vanish completely," Tieger said.

Another prosecutor, Arthur Traldi, said that Mladic had "command and control" over the Bosnian Serb forces and that "in carrying out the ethnic cleansing campaign, his... forces committed a constant pattern of crimes throughout Serbian-claimed territory."

Tieger added that it was Mladic "who was in charge, who called the shots," arguing Mladic had even "bragged about" his exploits.

Tiger denounced the defense's attempts "to transform Mladic into a benign but ineffective officer" who sought to protect Muslims.

The 74-year-old has denied all 11 charges against him -- including two charges of genocide as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Families of the victims are anxiously awaiting the results of the case.

Munira Subasic, who heads the Mothers of Srebrenica group, attended the hearing on December 5 on what would have been the 42nd birthday of her son who was killed in the genocide in 1995.

Subasic regretted that justice had been so long coming.

"Mladic should be remembered as a mass murderer from the end of the 20th century, who took thousands of young women and men to death and who left thousands of mothers and parents in sorrow," Subasic said.

The closing arguments are expected to last more than a week, with a verdict expected next year.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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