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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs