A UN war crimes court upheld all charges against Bosnian Serb ex-army chief Ratko Mladic, saying he “has a case to answer”, including for his role in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.
Mladic, 72, appeared before judges on Tuesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) half-way through his trial to hear whether they deem that enough evidence exists to continue trying him for his role in Bosnia’s bloody 1992-95 war.
Dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia”, Mladic faces 11 counts, ranging from genocide to murder and hostage-taking, for his role in the Balkan country’s three-year conflict in which 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were left homeless.
“The Chamber has carefully examined the evidence and is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence under the applicable legal standard at this stage for these counts to stand,” judge Alphons Orie said.
“Accordingly, the Chamber considers that the accused has a case to answer on all counts of the indictment,” he said.
Mladic, who is known for his frequent outbursts in court, listened intently, occasionally dangling his glasses from his left hand.
Dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and red tie, he smiled at the public gallery as Orie read the three-judge bench’s findings at the ICTY’s headquarters in The Hague.
Orie cited harrowing testimony from prosecution witnesses, many of them Bosnian Muslims recounting how their relatives were executed or otherwise suffered at the hands of forces under Mladic’s command.
Arrested in Serbia and transferred to the ICTY in 2011, the former Bosnian Serb commander is in particular wanted for his role in the June 1995 massacre of almost 8000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia.
Lawyers for Mladic, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, will now state their case, scheduled to start next month.