The Slovenia Times

Mladić ICTY ruling warning to war criminals, Foreign Ministry says


By sentencing Mladić, the ICTY showed once again that there really is no statute of limitations for war crimes, the Foreign Ministry also said, adding that victims of the Bosnian war should be remembered today.

"Srebrenica must remain in our memory as a reminder for the international community that such atrocities must never happen and must never be allowed again," the ministry said, referring to one in a number of crimes Mladić was found to have played a key role in.

The ministry also said it expected the ruling to be implemented in line with international law and efforts to prevent impunity because the tribunal's decision is of extreme significance for the survivors, victims' families and those still deemed missing.

Concluding the court processes against individuals indicted for crimes and atrocities in the area of the former Yugoslavia and the acknowledgement of truth are key conditions for reconciliation in the region, the press release also said.

Political analyst and former ambassador to Serbia, Borut Šuklje, told the STA that the court deemed Mladić one of the most responsible people if not the most responsible person for atrocities of Bosnian war.

Confirming that genocide took place in Srebrenica is the key point of the ruling, Šuklje believes.

However, the time limitations imposed on the ICTY, which will close at the end of the year, prevented the prosecution from introducing new proof and try him for all the crimes he committed, Šuklje said.

He believes that this was the reason why the prosecutor probably decided to focus on the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo.

There is one more important aspect of this trial in Šuklje's opinion: 18 volumes of meticulous war journals kept by Mladić. Šuklje said that the former military commander kept notes to show who else was involved if he ever faced a court.

Among other things, the documents talk about understandings between Serbia and Croatia about the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Šuklje believes that they will be used in the process against a group of politicians of Herceg-Bosna, a Croatian entity within Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war. This will be the last trial conducted by ICTY.

International law expert Ernest Petrič commented for the STA on the life-long prison sentence handed down to Mladić in comparison to the 40-year sentence given to Radovan Karadžić, the political leader of Bosnian Serbs.

Petrič said that the two sentences were de facto the same thing, considering Karadžić's age. It is also questionable how many direct orders were given by Karadžić, whereas there is no question that Mladić was "directly responsible and gave direct orders for these crimes as the military commander".

The former Constitutional Court judge said that today's ruling marked the end of ICTY, established as an ad hoc tribunal by the UN in 1993.

The ICTY and other similar tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda were very important in that they showed the international community's dedication to try and punish the perpetrators of the most gruesome crimes, Petrič stressed.

New cases of crimes in wars of former Yugoslavia will however be handled by national courts. Petrič is sceptical about this because the atmosphere is such that some consider Mladić a hero and others a criminal, he illustrated.

He believes however that it is only right for the ICTY to conclude its work and let national courts do their jobs. Petrič labelled the end of ICTY "an epilogue to the horrendous tragedy that happened in the former Yugoslavia".


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