A hostile and defiant Ratko Mladic appeared in a U.N. court in the Hague Wednesday to appeal his 2017 life sentence for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed in the early to mid-1990s.
The former Bosnian Serb military commander jabbed his finger at the court and railed against the West for 10 minutes before the judge cut him off.
"I'm very sorry that you have interrupted me. My time is only just coming. People will hear what Ratko Mladic has to say. I am alive and I will live as long as our tribe and our people live. Thank you. And this indictment of yours has gone down the drain," he said.
Mladic called one of the prosecutors the "blonde lady who has been showering me with satanic, snaky, devilish words."
"I am none of the things that you call me," he stated.
Mladic described himself as a "simple man" and a professional soldier doing his duty.
"Fate put me in a position to defend my country, the SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) that you Western powers had devastated with the help of the Vatican, and the Western mafia," he said.
Prosecutor Barbara Goy called him "one of the worst war criminals who has ever faced justice...life imprisonment is the only conceivable sentence. Nothing less than the maximum sentence is appropriate,” she said.
Prosecutors say Mladic was one of the engineers of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up and murdered, their bodies tossed into mass graves.
"Mladic was key to the success of this operation," prosecutor Laurel Baig said. "Not only was he present, giving orders supervising and directing, he also played a critical and high level role in keeping the international community from stopping these massacres."
Mladic's lawyers argued that his 2017 conviction was based on what they say were legal and factual mistakes.
They say Mladic should be acquitted or re-tried because others were responsible for atrocities.
The U.N. appeals court – formally called the U.N. International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals – is expected to rule on the Mladic appeal in 2021.
Mladic was the Bosnian Serb military chief during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina when Bosnian Serbs sought to force Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of territory claimed by Bosnian Serbs – giving birth to the phrase "ethnic cleansing" and the breakup of what was left of Yugoslavia.