Justice legacy: jailing the Butcher of Bosnia was a victory of process
Ratko Mladic, the "Butcher of Bosnia", will now die in prison, having been convicted of war crimes and genocide. As it winds down, what is the legacy the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia?
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had already been in place for over two years before the horrors of Srebrenica in May 1995. The Army of Republika Srpska rounded up more than 8000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys from the small town in a UN “safe zone” in Bosnia’s east and slaughtered them, while a nearby peacekeeping force scrawled pornographic cartoons and racial slurs on their barrack walls. Remains are still being found, and funerals are still being held.
Meanwhile, the siege of Sarajevo had been going for roughly a year before the tribunal was established, starting in 1992 and continuing into 1996 — a civilian population blocked in and battered daily with hundreds of shells; their markets blown apart, their national library burnt down. Both the massacre of Srebrenica and the siege were led, in whole or part, by Army of Republika Srpska chief of staff Ratko Mladic, who overnight was convicted by the ICTY of genocide and war crimes, and will now die in prison. His life sentence follows that of Radovan Karadzic, the president of Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War. These are the last high-profile cases to be dealt with by the ICTY, the international community’s first attempt since World War II to collectively punish war crimes.