United Nations judges have rejected former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s appeal of his 2017 conviction for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity — a ruling that keeps him in prison for the rest of his life.
Mladic, 78, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of leading the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and of terror and unlawful attacks against civilians in Sarajevo during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
The massacre in Srebrenica was the worst in Europe since World War II. Mladic maintains his innocence.
His lawyers argued that his conviction was based on what they said were legal and factual mistakes, and that he should be acquitted or retried because others were responsible for atrocities.
Prosecutors also appealed Mladic’s acquittal on another genocide charge related to the conflict. He was convicted of other crimes that include extermination, murder, terror and persecution.
Tuesday’s ruling all but ends the U.N.’s prosecutions of war crimes that claimed more than 100,000 lives and left millions homeless.
“Mladić’s crimes were the abhorrent culmination of hatred stoked for political gain. Today’s decision is about his individual responsibility for his dreadful acts, not about collective punishment or apportioning guilt to any particular community,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
“The United States helped lead the international effort to end the atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to bring to justice those who committed crimes there and in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, and to establish a lasting peace to that country and the broader region,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement. “We are grateful for the tireless work of the U.N. tribunals over the past two decades on cases related to the conflict in the Balkans and all those whose dedication made this judgment possible.”
Dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia” Mladic and Karadzic are accused of taking part during the war that claimed the lives of about 100,000 people.