Trial begins for the 'Butcher of Srebenica'

The trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian-Serb general who helped plan and oversee the Siege of Sarajevo, is underway in The Hague. Mladic stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for orchestrating a savage program of ethnic cleansing that culminated in Srebenica in 1995, where more than 7000 Muslim men and boys were murdered.

From the BBC:

Prosecuting counsel Dermot Groome said they would prove Gen. Mladic’s hand in the crimes.

“Four days ago marked two decades since Ratko Mladic became the commander of the main staff of the army of Republika Srpska – the VRS,” he said.

“On that day, Mladic began his full participation in a criminal endeavour that was already in progress. On that day, he assumed the mantle of realising through military might the criminal goals of ethnically cleansing much of Bosnia. On that day he commenced his direct involvement in serious international crimes.”

Mr Groome said that by the time Gen. Mladic and his troops had “murdered thousands in Srebrenica” they were “well-rehearsed in the craft of murder”.

Mladic, who spent more than a decade on the run, hidden from justice in Serbia, has called the charges “monstrous.” In court Tuesday, he faced not only the prosecutors but a hostile audience as well.

From the NY Times:

In the crowded public gallery, a group of survivors from Bosnia murmured insults as Mr. Mladic appeared with one woman shouting “vulture” as he turned to scan the crowd and give a thumbs-up sign as he spotted an acquaintance.

During a break Kada Hotic, who had traveled from Srebrenica, was sobbing “He ordered the killing of my husband, my son, my two brothers and my brother-in-law,” she said. “Now that I look him in the face, I want revenge.”