Mladic’s UN war crimes trial ends, judges ponder verdicts
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The war crimes and genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic ended Thursday and three United Nations judges adjourned to deliberate, a process expected to take nearly a year.
The prosecution and Mladic’s defense team made their final remarks before Presiding Judge Aphons Orie adjourned the case until the court delivers its verdicts on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prosecutors urged the judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague to convict Mladic and give him a life sentence for allegedly masterminding atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. Mladic’s lawyers argued for his acquittal.
Prosecutor Alan Tieger sought to sum up his case and counter claims that the tribunal is biased against Serbs, who comprise the majority of suspects it has indicted.
“General Mladic is not on trial because he is a Serb. He is not on trial because he is a military officer,” Tieger said. “He is on trial because the evidence shows and proves beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.”
The end of the trial phase of Mladic’s case is a landmark for the tribunal, which was set up in 1993 as the Balkan wars still raged and has successfully prosecuted dozens of suspects.
Defense lawyer Dragan Ivetic told the court that reasonable doubt still existed over whether his client was responsible for the mass killings of Muslims that took place during the war and other crimes.
“For all aspects of the case, General Mladic cannot be help criminally responsible because this prosecution has not brought you to the top of the pyramid,” Ivetic said.
Mladic’s trial is the last before the war crimes court shuts down and hands over its remaining appeals and other residual issues to an institution called the United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.