United Nations judges in The Hague will decide within hours on a verdict in the trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, who is accused of war crimes stemming from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.
Mladic, known as the “Butcher of Bosnia,” is the last former military leader to face war crimes charges in the court, which was set up to deal with the aftermath of the Bosnian war that raged from 1992 through 1995.
Mladic, who has been on trial since 2012, has been charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in leading sniper campaigns in Sarajevo and the 1995 killings of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica — the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
Prosecutors have asked the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to sentence Mladic to life in prison. Last year, attorney Alan Tieger said anything less than a life sentence would be “an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice.”
Mladic’s defense lawyer, Dragan Ivetic, has accused prosecutors of seeking to make the former general a “symbolic sacrificial lamb for the perceived guilt” of all Serbs during the war. He called for Mladic, 75, to be acquitted on all charges.
At the end of the war in 1995, Mladic went into hiding and lived in obscurity in Serbia, protected by family and elements of the security forces.
Mladic was indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity but evaded justice for 16 years. He was eventually tracked down and arrested at a cousin’s house in rural northern Serbia in 2011.
The Bosnian Serbs’ political leader, Radovan Karadzic, was found guilty of war crimes in March 2016 and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The U.N. tribunal is scheduled to initiate proceedings to deliver the verdict Wednesday.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.