War crimes charges against Mladic

May 16, 2012, 2:52 PM

Associated Press

(AP) – The indictment against Ratko Mladic _ who went on trial Wednesday at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands _ holds the former Bosnian Serb army commander “individually criminally responsible for planning, instigating, ordering and/or aiding and abetting the crimes charged in this indictment.” Mladic is charged with 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. The counts below detail the atrocities during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war that Mladic is accused of commanding.


Ratko Mladic, along with other former Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders is accused of “destroying” entire groups of Muslim and Croat communities in various parts of Bosnia. These include the 3-year relentless shelling of the capital, Sarajevo, and several other small towns such as Foca, where Serbs were particularly brutal, executing local Muslims and throwing them into a river. Some of the remains were only found last year.


This count of genocide refers to the mass killing of over 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, in July 1995, which is Europe’s worst bloodshed since World War II. Mladic’s troops executed almost the entire Srebrenica male population in a few days, burying them later in mass graves around the town. Many were later found with their hands tied behind their back and identification of the remains is still ongoing.


The count relates to the persecution on political and religious grounds against Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats in the Serb-controlled towns like Banja Luka, in western Bosnia, or Bijeljina in the east. Non-Serbs in these and other towns were evicted from their homes by Serb troops, held in prison camps, tortured, raped and killed. Images or skinny, naked prisoners from the camps in western Bosnia in 1992-93 reminded the world of the Nazi-era camps.


These counts of the indictment refer to the widespread killings of non-Serbs that took place in the territories under the Bosnian Serb control, but also on the brutal attacks on the capital, Sarajevo, which prosecutors say were designed to “spread terror.” Mladic’s troops from 1992-95 were constantly sniping and shelling Sarajevo, killing thousands of civilians, the longest siege of a capital city since WWII.


Mladic’s troops also used forced deportation and various inhumane acts, such as sexual violence, killing, and destruction of houses and cultural monuments and sacred sites, to rid the Serb-controller territories of non-Serbs. This was started in 1992 in what became known as ethnic cleansing. Entire communities were forcefully displaced and the U.N. Security Council set up so-called safe havens in 1993 to protect those communities from Serb troops. Those included Srebrenica, Zepa , Gorazde and Sarajevo.


The main focus of this count is on the siege of Sarajevo and the campaign of sniping and shelling to spread terror among the civilian population. Mladic’s forces sniped and shelled civilians as they conducted every day civilian activities. People were injured and killed inside their homes. The lack of gas, electricity or running water forced people to leave their homes, where they were targeted. People were also targeted while queuing for water or in the markets. Two mortar attacks on the Markale markets killed more than one hundred people and wounded more than 200.


This separate count refers to the events in 1995, when Mladic’s troops took hostage U.N. peacekeepers in Bosnia to force NATO to prevent attacks on Bosnian Serb positions around Sarajevo. Between approximately 26 May 1995 and 19 June 1995, Bosnian Serb forces detained over 200 U.N. peacekeepers and military observers in various locations, sending out images of peacekeepers tied to antennas or radars in a warning to NATO. Some of the detainees were assaulted or otherwise maltreated during their captivity. They were released in several stages after an intervention from then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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