The Bosnian Serb wartime general, Ratko Mladic, one of the main architects of the genocide at Srebrenica, remains at large even as victims’ families gather to mark the 15th anniversary of the killings, Human Rights Watch said today.
“What happened in Srebrenica requires justice as well as memorialization,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Ratko Mladic’s liberty is an affront to both.”
On July 11, 1995, during the war in Bosnia, the United Nations and NATO allowed Bosnian Serb forces and Serb paramilitary unit known as “the Scorpions” to seize the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, even though the UN had declared it a “safe area.” The Serb forces executed between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in the week after the fall of the town, the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II.
There has been progress toward justice for the Srebrenica genocide in recent years. The Bosnian Serb wartime president, Radovan Karadzic, is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, facing charges that include genocide at Srebrenica.
On June 10, 2010, the tribunal sentenced two high-ranking Bosnian Serb military officers, Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara, to life in prison for the Srebrenica genocide, the court’s first convictions on the basis of personal responsibility for genocide. In 2001, the court convicted Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic of aiding and abetting the genocide.
The European Union’s requirement that Serbia cooperate fully with the tribunal as a condition for closer ties and Serbia’s desire for EU membership have been key factors leading to the recent progress in gaining Serbian cooperation, including Karadzic’s transfer to The Hague. But Mladic remains at liberty, despite repeated promises by the Serbian government to deliver him to justice. Both Mladic and the other remaining fugitive from the tribunal, Goran Hadzic, are believed to be in Serbia. Hadzic is a Croatian Serb leader charged with crimes against humanity – the murder and persecution of Croats and other non-Serb civilians in eastern Croatia between 1991 and 1993, during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.