Statement by the Prosecutor on the occasion of Mladić Appeals Judgement
Following the issuance of the appeal judgment in the case of Prosecutor vs. Ratko Mladić, Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, gave the following statement to the press:
Today, Ratko Mladić, Commander of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army, was by final judgment convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his crimes.
The Appeals Chamber rejected appeals filed by the defence and upheld the key findings of the Trial Chamber.
Mladić was found guilty for commanding violent ethnic cleansing campaigns across Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. He was further convicted for commanding a campaign of crimes against the civilian population during the Siege of Sarajevo. He was also convicted for using the forces under his command to commit genocide against the Bosnian Muslim population of Srebrenica. Finally, he was convicted for taking UN peacekeepers hostage and using them as human shields.
The time has come to accept the truth.
Mladić ranks among the most notorious war criminals in modern history. He intentionally used his military command to attack, kill, torture, rape and expel innocent civilians for no reason other than their ethnicity and religion. He inflamed ethnic hatred and lied to those he purported to defend in order to justify his crimes. Given the power of life or death over thousands of innocent men and boys in Srebrenica, he ordered their total elimination and committed genocide.
Mladić should be condemned by all responsible officials in the former Yugoslavia and around the world. His name should be consigned to the list of history’s most depraved and barbarous figures.
This is not a judgment against the Serbian people, who Mladić and his supporters have manipulated for decades. Mladić’s guilt is his, and his alone.
With the conclusion of this case, the victims and survivors should be in the forefront of our thoughts.
The appeal judgment confirms again what they suffered. And it confirms the courage of the witnesses who came forward and told the truth.
On behalf of my Office, I would like to recognize the victims and survivors who never gave up on their quest for justice. We extend our deepest appreciation to them, because without them we would not have been able to do our work. We hope that today’s judgment provides them some measure of solace and a feeling that, despite all the harms they suffered and how long they waited, justice is possible.
I would also like to express our gratitude to the diplomatic community and the media, who supported our work for more than two decades. You played a critical role in ensuring that Mladić was finally held accountable for his crimes.
Ultimately, today’s judgment should also remind us of the justice that still needs to be achieved. Throughout the former Yugoslavia, thousands of war crimes suspects from all sides remain to be investigated and prosecuted. National prosecutors and judges now have the responsibility to continue this work, and my Office pledges to provide them with our full support. Together we can ensure that all victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia are able to see those who wronged them answer for their crimes.