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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs