General Mladić convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment: triumph of justice over violence

Brussels, Rome – 22 November 2017


 
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
 
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) heralds today’s convict ion of General Ratko Mladić as a victory for justice and a critical step in the healing of the former Yugoslavia.  Over 20 years ago, Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladić executed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys and forced another 25,000 women, children and elderly people to leave their homes. The massacre was found to constitute genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2004, a finding reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2007 and again today by the ICTY.
 
“NPWJ consistently called for the ICTY’s doors to remain open until General Mladić could be brought before it and answer to the charges against him. To do otherwise would have been an affront to the memory of the thousands of victims still awaiting justice for the crimes committed at Srebrenica in July 1995. We applaud the resolve of everyone who has worked hard to see this day come and who have employed political and diplomatic means to ensure Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY, including the ICTY Prosecutor, States and members of civil society in the former Yugoslavia and around the world. Today their determination has paid off.
 
“There can no longer be any denial of the inhumane tragedy of what was done in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia during those dark days. For the victims in Foca, Prijedor and elsewhere, it is difficult to understand how the very same joint criminal enterprise had genocidal intent for Srebrenica, but not for them, given the way in which killing, detention, inhumane acts and other crimes were committed in those places.
 
“Nonetheless, as the Chamber said, the attempts to cover up the crimes committed in Srebrenica and elsewhere ultimately failed. The facts have now been well-tested through their rigorous examination according to the highest international standards, through this and countless other trials at the ICTY. There can also be no denial of the role of General Mladić, convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, including in Srebrenica, after a trial in which his ability to defend himself was both respected and facilitated.
 
“Today, as we honour the memory of victims of Srebrenica, of Bosnia and of countless other acts of violence around the world, we can state with more confidence that slowly but surely, justice will triumph over violence. It took 16 years for General Mladić to be arrested and transferred to the ICTY, but the lesson to draw here is that although it took time, there is no escaping justice, as his capture, transfer, trial and conviction shows. Let other fugitives from justice take note and let other victims take hope.”
 
 
For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-486-986 235 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3913.