A second-instance verdict against Ratko Mladic, General of Republika Srpska (RS) Army will be handed down next week, and now let’s look at parts of the first-instance verdict and the way the Hague Tribunal’s Trial Chamber assessed Mladic’s political influence on Bosnian Serb leadership decisions.
In 2017, the Trial Chamber of the Hague Tribunal determined that Mladic participated in four joint criminal enterprises (JCE). The first comprehensive JCE aimed to permanently remove Bosniaks and Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by committing crimes, including genocide, extermination, murder, inhumane acts of forcible transfer, and deportation.
In this regard, we highlight several Trial Chamber findings establishing Mladic’s responsibility to spread propaganda against Bosniaks and Croats, as well as the active role he had in influencing the political decisions of the RS leadership.
During the trial, the defense claimed that Mladic was excluded from political decision-making, that he did not have the right to vote in the RS National Assembly and attended only some sessions of the Assembly, thus seeking to reduce his responsibility for planning war crimes, as well as the adoption of the strategic goals of the RS, which were their foundation.
Furthermore, the defense stated that Mladic was not a member of the RS Supreme Command and that he could attend its meetings only by invitation and without voting capacity.
During the trial of Ratko Mladic, the Prosecution presented a number of pieces of evidence, which the Trial Chamber accepted, and they are related to the active influence that Mladic had on political processes. The verdict repeatedly cites excerpts from Mladic’s speech of May 12th, 1992 in the RS National Assembly as evidence of his understanding of the consequences that can result from the RS’s strategic goals.
“Therefore, we cannot cleanse or have a sieve to achieve for only Serbs to remain or for Serbs to perish and for the others to leave. Well, that will not happen, I don’t know how Mr. Krajisnik and Mr. Karadzic will explain that to the world. That is genocide, ” Mladic said on that occasion.
The Chamber found that between May 12th, 1992 and April 16th, 1995, Mladic continuously pointed out that he had no tendency to interfere in political matters and on several occasions refused to make a decision without consulting the Bosnian Serb political leadership. But, the Chamber concluded that he actively participated in policy discussions during the sessions and meetings of the Bosnian Serb Assembly between May 12th, 1992 and April 16th, 1995 with members of the RS government.
Mladic also discussed the RS’s strategic goals at several meetings with senior political individuals and representatives of the international community and expressed his commitment to them. In this regard, the Chamber established that Mladic strongly opposed the Vance-Owen plan during the Bosnian Serb Assembly meeting on May 5th and May 6th, 1993, and often suggested to Bosnian Serb politicians what position they should take during peace negotiations to achieve strategic goals.
“Mladic has insisted on several occasions that Karadzic and the political leadership should follow their originally defined strategic goals and should not make any territorial concessions so they could ensure a united Serbian state without Muslims or Croats,” it was stated in the verdict for Mladic.
Also, the Council concluded that Mladic attended and actively participated in Assembly sessions to discuss political issues, such as the definition of the six strategic objectives, peace negotiations, and territorial concessions, and also attended meetings of the Supreme Command. It was further noted that Mladic addressed these issues in detail during the Assembly session to influence the Bosnian Serb political leadership in terms of decision-making, Klix.ba writes.