War crimes trial hears Ratko Mladic intended to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Bosnia
Prosecution gives its opening statement
FORMER Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic intended to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnia, the first day of his war crimes trial heard today.
The ailing 70-year-old faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, in connection with the 1992-95 Bosnian war that left 100,000 people dead.
Mladic gave a thumbs-up and clapped to supporters in the public gallery of the court at The Hague, Holland, as the trial got under way.
The trial is a landmark for the UN court and international justice – Mladic is the last suspect from the Bosnian War to go on trial there.
Mr Groome opened his statement by focusing on a 14-year-old boy whose father and uncle were among 150 men murdered by Bosnian Serb forces in November 1992.
He said Mladic’s forces continued such killings through to 1995, when they massacred 8,000 Muslim men in the Srebrenica enclave.
“By the time Mladic and his troops murdered thousands in Srebrenica ... they were well-rehearsed in the craft of murder,” Mr Groome told the court.
He said all the attacks were part of an “overarching” plan to ethnically cleanse parts of Bosnia of non-Serbs.
Prosecutors will show evidence “beyond reasonable doubt the hand of Mr Mladic in each of these crimes”, Mr Groome said.
Mladic has refused to enter pleas, but he denies wrongdoing, saying he acted to defend Serbs in Bosnia. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.