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Old 11-22-2017, 13:50   #1
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Bosnian Serb Commander Guilty of Genocide

A small part of Europe altered. A small number of leaders convicted of genocide.

Ratko Mladic jailed for life
A verdict of genocide against the Bosnian Serb commander
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia winds up its work

The Economist
Nov 22nd 2017| PRISTINA

RATKO MLADIC, the military leader of Bosnian Serb forces during the war of 1992-95, shouted “lies” at the court. Nevertheless, the UN’s Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal in The Hague found him guilty on November 22nd of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. There were no surprises in the verdicts and no surprises in the reactions. Mr Mladic has been sent to prison for life; and next month the tribunal will shut up shop for good.

Mr Mladic was a ruddy-faced soldier’s soldier. He did not lead from behind. His troops loved him. He became, and still is, an icon for many Serbs. He saw himself as a defender of the Serbian nation, having taken up the sword as generations before him had done to fight for his people. He said he was innocent of all charges. Like many Serbs he was convinced that the tribunal was an anti-Serb kangaroo court.

Mr Mladic believed in revenge. During the second world war his father, a communist partisan, died fighting Croatian fascist forces. As a Yugoslav army general he helped the Croatian Serbs carve out a short-lived secessionist enclave in Croatia in 1991. When his troops took Muslim-held Srebrenica in 1995 he notoriously said: “The time has finally come for revenge against the Turks who live in this area.” The Turks left Bosnia in 1878, but he used the term to disparage his Muslim enemies. In the next few days over 7,000 men and boys were murdered in cold blood.

The Hague tribunal found him guilty of genocide for the murders carried out at Srebrenica, but not for those in six other Bosnian municipalities where, although the judgment said that war crimes had taken place, it also ruled that they had fallen short of genocide. This verdict echoed that of 2016 against Radovan Karadzic, the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the war. Mr Mladic was also found guilty of terrorising the citizens of Sarajevo during his siege of the city, and of taking UN soldiers hostage.

If Mr Mladic remains a hero to many Serbs, to those who fought them he is the devil incarnate. The trial will have changed no minds. The tribunal sought to bring reconciliation to the region, but in that it failed. It has amassed a huge archive of testimony about every detail of the Yugoslav wars, an extraordinary resource for future historians. Still, the hope had been that if political and military leaders ended up in court for their deeds in wartime, that would discourage future ones from committing such atrocities. From Syria to the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingyas, this has proved to be a pious dream.

Terrible things happened during Yugoslavia’s wars. Justice caught up with some perpetrators, such as Mr Mladic, while many others got away. Now, with this last trial over, history has moved on. Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, Kosovo Albanians and everyone else in the region live with the legacies of past crimes. But more than revenge, they want better schools, health care and jobs, like everyone else. Today’s leaders have nothing more to do than to get on with the boring task of making life better for the citizens of the seven little successor states of the old Yugoslavia that Mr Mladic and his like destroyed.

The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.

Marcus Tullius Cicero
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