Ratko Mladic, the military chief often referred to as the “Butcher of Bosnia” for orchestrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkan nation’s 1992-95 war, lost his final legal battle on Tuesday when UN judges upheld his life sentence.
The rejection of Mladic’s appeals of his 2017 convictions and sentence closed a grim chapter in European history that included the continent’s first genocide since World War II – the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
The now-frail Mladic showed no reaction other than a scowl as presiding judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe of Zambia said the panel had dismissed, by a vote of 4-1, his appeals of convictions for crimes including genocide, murder, extermination and terror for atrocities throughout the war that killed more than 100,000 and left millions homeless.
The 79-year-old former general is the last major figure to face justice from the conflict that ended more than a quarter century ago.
The presiding judge said the court dismissed Mladic’s appeal “in its entirety” and affirmed his life sentence. It also rejected an appeal by prosecutors of Mladic’s acquittal on one other count of genocide linked to ethnic purges early in the war.
US President Joe Biden said the “historic judgment shows that those who commit horrific crimes will be held accountable. It also reinforces our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world”.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday the ruling upholding the conviction of Mladic for genocide and war crimes meant the international justice system has held him to account.