Turkey welcomed the United Nations court’s decision to uphold a life sentence for Ratko Mladic for his part in the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying that it was the correct move, although it would not reduce the pain of the relatives of the victims.
The Foreign Ministry said in a written statement that judges for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Mladic – also known as the “butcher of Bosnia” – to life in prison in 2017 for the genocide he committed and atrocities against humanity along with violation of the law of war.
Noting that he unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and the court upheld his life sentence Tuesday, the statement said the court made the right decision in the interest of justice.
The statement said Turkey hopes the ruling will advance peace and reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the region and contribute to the prevention of such crimes in the future.
Butcher of Bosnia
Mladic was once Europe’s most wanted man after his role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
He was commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, which was established in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the beginning of the country’s civil war amid the breakup of Yugoslavia.
He and the forces under his command committed genocide in Bosnia – particularly in Srebrenica, resulting in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II – after Serb forces overran an enclave that was supposed to be under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers.
Mladic is also known for his forces’ bloody 1,425-day siege of Sarajevo, the longest against a capital city in the history of modern warfare.
After the end of the war with the Dayton Accords signed on Nov. 21, 1995, Mladic became a fugitive for over a decade.
A 15-year manhunt ended in 2011 when Mladic was found and handed over to the ICTY for trial, which began on May 16, 2012, and ended with summations in December 2016.
The more-than-500-day trial called 591 witnesses and saw nearly 10,000 pieces of evidence accepted by the court.
Fugitive faced justice
Mladic was born on March 12, 1942, in the Kalinovik area of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
He trained at the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) Military Academy in Belgrade. He first served in the JNA, then in the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), which was established in Bosnia-Herzegovina as Yugoslavia broke apart.
The VRS was founded at the beginning of the war in Bosnia on May 12, 1992, and Mladic was its commander. JNA forces in Bosnia were also converted to VRS units.