Life Imprisonment for ‘The Butcher of Bosnia’

On June 8, 2021, Ratko Mladić was imprisoned for life by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The reason behind this was his terrible crimes which were committed all over Bosnia by the Serbian military forces and Ratko Mladić as their leader. ‘The Butcher of Bosnia’ is what he was nicknamed and it certainly holds up to his infamous reputation since Mladic was convicted for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. 

Ratko Mladić was born in Kalinovik, Bosnia Herzegovina in 1942. He was raised by his mother and father, who was a member of the Yugoslav Partisans and was killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. Ratko Mladić went on to military school in 1961 in Zemun and went on to join the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. During his military years, he was placed in many different checkpoints, like Skopje and also Prishtina, but his inhumane doings happened mostly in Bosnia.

As the leader of the Army of Republika Srpska in Bosnia, which was created by the Bosnian Serb Parliament, Ratko Mladić became responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of Bosnians, all of these killings took place during the Siege of Srebrenica, the Srebrenica Massacre, and Siege of Sarajevo. The Srebrenica Massacre is why he gained his nickname ‘The Butcher of Bosnia’. Mladić ordered the killings of 8,372 deaths, among them being men, women, elders, and also children. 

In July 1995, the Army of Republika Srpska carried out a mission in Srebrenica, its purpose was to cleanse the town of all weapons they could find in people’s homes. After they got a hold of all the weapons, the killings started. Groups of people were sent to gymnasiums, halls, schools and were shot dead, while others were shot in their homes. The Srebrenica Massacre caused almost 8,500 deaths and 40,000 Bosnians to flee their homes. All these killings happened under the command of the war criminal Ratko Mladić. 

After the Yugoslav Wars and Kosovo War ended, Mladić was a fugitive from the ICTY(International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). He remained that way until 2011. Ratko Mladić managed to stay fugitive for a long time by moving constantly, being sheltered by his family and also different Serbian security forces. He was captured in the village of Lazarevo in Northern Serbia, his capture also led to improvements in relations with the European Union for Serbia. 

Following his arrest, Mladić was extradited to The Hague on 31 May 2011. In 2017,  the ICTY convicted him on 10 charges: one of genocide, five of crimes against humanity, and four of violations of the laws or customs of war. Mladić was deemed responsible for the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica Massacre, and as one of the highest commanding officers he was sentenced to life in prison. On 3 September 2020, the five judge panel representing the MITC’s Appeals Chamber voted 4-1 to reject Mladić’s request for possible hospitalization outside of The Hague’s detention center. On 8 June 2021, Mladić’s final appeal was rejected 4-1 and he was sent in prison for life. 

‘The Butcher of Bosnia’ is what Milosevic’s reign represented, terror, genocide, massacre and ethnic cleansing. A puppet of Milosevic and a war criminal, Ratko Mladić got what he deserved. Never can the grief of a mother or a father, a brother, or a spouse be compensated, but at least justice was served for Mladić. 

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