News / Europe

Mladic Latest to Appear Before International War Crimes Tribunal

Wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic gestures at his long-awaited first appearance before a U.N. judge in The Hague, June 3, 2011
Wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic gestures at his long-awaited first appearance before a U.N. judge in The Hague, June 3, 2011

The former Bosnian Serb military leader, General Ratko Mladic, is the latest to appear before the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, or ICTY, was established by the United Nations Security Council in May 1993 to prosecute those accused of atrocities stemming from the 1992 to 1995 Bosnian conflict. An estimated 100,000 people were killed and 2 million were displaced in the fighting.

This was the first time that a war crimes tribunal was set up since leaders of Nazi Germany were prosecuted at the Nuremberg trials between 1945-1949 and Japanese officials at the Tokyo trials between 1946 - 1948.

Court's Purpose is Deterrance

Experts say unlike the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, the ICTY was set up during wartime.  David Kaye, international law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA, says the U.N. had a particular reason to set up an international court during the conflict - deterrence.

“That if there was a mechanism out there to hold individuals accountable, it might cause people on the ground, that is military officers or political leaders, those responsible for these kinds of crimes, might cause them to think twice - because if they committed the act, maybe they’d be indicted and sent to The Hague for a trial,” Kaye said.

Marko Hoare, a Balkans expert at London’s Kingston University, offers another reason. “It was set up at a time when the West and the international community seemed to be doing very badly - they failed to bring peace.  The war was flaring up and getting worse under their own eyes.  So it was seen as a sort of alternative to action - so if you didn’t actually take any military action to halt the atrocities, at least you were setting up a tribunal to punish the perpetrators.  So it was an alternative to action,” Hoare said.

Each case at the Yugoslav tribunal is heard by a panel of three judges, and the verdict is reached by a majority vote.  The verdict can be appealed and that would be heard by a different panel of five judges.  And because this is a U.N. tribunal, there is no death penalty - the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

The most high profile case to date was that of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.

Marko Hoare says Milosevic used the forum as a propaganda tool.

“He didn’t really try and defend himself from the charges. He didn’t adopt a legal strategy; he seemed to use it as a platform from which to make political speeches. So in a sense, he strung the proceedings out as long as he could - he basically made a circus of the court.  And this helped postpone the trial to the point where he actually died during the course of it - it was an unresolved trial as a result of that,” Hoare said.

Experts say Milosevic’s death in March 2006, months before a verdict was due, was a blow to the court.

But David Kaye says over the years, the tribunal has gained credibility.

“It has held dozens of trials.  It has held trials of Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Kosovar Albanians, Serbs in Serbia, Macedonians.  It has really approached the entire history, in a way, of the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.  So it certainly has earned its credibility, and I think they have by and large been fair trials,” Kaye said.

Since its inception, the court has indicted 161 people and completed proceedings against 126.  Sixty-four have been convicted and 13 acquitted.

Mladic Latest HIgh Profile Defendant

The latest high-profile defendant to appear before the international tribunal is former Bosnian Serb military leader General Ratko Mladic. He was arrested last month and appeared before judges for the first time on June 3. He joins Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, who has been on trial since October 2009.  

That leaves only one man as the last remaining fugitive from the international court. He is Goran Hadzic, former president of the so-called “Republic of Serbian Krajina” in Croatia.  He is charged with a number of crimes including murder, persecution, extermination and torture.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More