THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic on Wednesday of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to life in prison for atrocities during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
Mladic, 75, was found guilty of commanding forces responsible for crimes including the worst atrocities of the war — the deadly three-year siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica, which was Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II.
A three-judge panel at the court formally known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia convicted Mladic of 10 of 11 counts in a dramatic climax to a groundbreaking effort to seek justice for the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Presiding Judge Alphons Orie read out the judgment Wednesday after ordering Mladic out of the courtroom for the final verdict over an angry outburst.
Mothers of Srebrenica’s victims clapped when the convictions were read out. Mladic’s son Darko said: “I’m not surprised. The court was totally biased from the start.”
Bosniaks and Serbs watched from near and far as the long-awaited climax approached. Wednesday’s judgment marks the end of the final trial at the tribunal, which was set up in 1993, while fierce fighting was still raging in Bosnia.
Emotions ran high outside the courtroom, with a small skirmish reflecting lingering tensions between Serbs and Bosniaks over the trial and the war.
Despite ailing health, Mladic looked relaxed, greeting lawyers and giving a thumbs-up to photographers in court. He nodded regularly as presiding Judge Alphons Orie read out descriptions of atrocities by Bosnian Serb forces, one by one.
Then Mladic’s lawyer asked for a delay because the general was suffering high blood pressure. The judge refused, and Mladic burst out with criticism and was ordered to leave the room..