'The Butcher of Bosnia' Ratko Mladic sentenced to life for war crimes, genocide; UN terms verdict 'momentous victory for justice'

The Hague: Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic was on Wednesday sentenced to life for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the final trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Mladic, dubbed "The Butcher of Bosnia", was convicted for crimes committed during the 1992-1995 war which killed 100,000 people and displaced 2.2 million as ethnic rivalries tore Yugoslavia apart.

He was facing verdicts on 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for allegedly masterminding atrocities by Serb forces. He insisted he was innocent.

The United Nations judge reading the verdict said Mladic was responsible for crimes including persecution, extermination, murder in Bosnian towns.

 The Butcher of Bosnia Ratko Mladic sentenced to life for war crimes, genocide; UN terms verdict momentous victory for justice

Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic during an angry outburst in the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday. AP

The judge also said that Mladic intended to commit genocide in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica where 8,000 men and boys were massacred.

The judge also said Mladic intended to carry out a deadly campaign of sniping and shelling in Sarajevo.

Following the verdict, the United Nations human rights chief  Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the conviction was  a "momentous victory for justice", and called the former Bosnian Serbian commander "the epitome of evil."

"Today’s verdict is a warning to the perpetrators of such crimes that they will not escape justice, no matter how powerful they may be nor how long it may take. They will be held accountable," Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said in a statement.

"Mladic presided over some of the darkest crimes to occur in Europe since World War II, bringing terror, death and destruction to thousands of victims, and sorrow, tragedy and trauma to countless more," Zeid added.

The UN statement noted that Zeid served as a UN protection officer in the former Yugoslavia from 1994 to 1996 and experienced the conflict "first-hand".

Bosnian victims and families on Wednesday said they were "partially satisfied" with the verdict.

"I'm partially satisfied. It's more than for (Radovan) Karadzic. But they didn't find him guilty for the accusation of genocide in some villages," said Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association.

He was earlier dragged out of his hearing, after Mladic began shouting at war crimes judges and accused them of lying.

Presiding judge Alphons Orie ordered him removed from the courtroom just after denying a defence request to halt the proceedings due to Mladic's high blood pressure.

"They are lying, you are lying. I don't feel good," Mladic shouted, refusing to sit down, before being hustled out of the courtroom by two UN security guards to a nearby room where he could watch the rest of the proceedings.

His outburst came after the judges refused to halt the reading of the verdict at the ICTY in The Hague.

After a surprise break requested by Mladic which lasted about 45 minutes, defence lawyer Dragan Ivetic returned to tell the judges that Mladic's blood pressure had been taken three times by nurses.

According to British and US medical organisations, that meant that Mladic was in a "hypertensive crisis" and continuing the hearing could lead to "fatality," Ivetic said.

But the judges disagreed with the findings, and refused to adjourn the hearing.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Nov 22, 2017 17:51:23 IST