Charged with genocide; complicity in genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes
Ratko Mladic was Radovan Karadzic's army chief throughout the Bosnian war. Mladic was born in Bosnia in 1942 and became a career officer in the Yugoslav People's Army. When the Bosnian Serb Assembly voted to create a Bosnian Serb army in 1992, Mladic was appointed Commander in Chief.
In 1992, fighting broke out in Sarajevo. Bosnian Serb Forces, under Mladic’s command and direction, responded by unleashing a campaign of terror against the multi-ethnic civilian population there, shelling the city from the hills above. Mladic’s troops took control of the municipalities in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and began persecuting non-Serbs in an effort to force them out of the region. Bosnian Muslims and others were arrested, their homes pillaged and their businesses destroyed. The campaign was known as “ethnic cleansing.”
In early 1993, Bosnian Serb forces attacked eastern Bosnia, forcing thousands of Muslims to leave the area and seek refuge in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which included Srebrenica and Zepa.
Mladic’s most notorious crime came after his forces seized the small, spa town of Srebrenica in July 1995. He led the Serb assault on this U.N.-protected enclave and is indicted for the massacre of more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys – this is now considered the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
Mladic and his army shelled Srebrenica for five days before they entered the town. Women and children were then bused out of the area, while the Serbs separated out all Muslim men and boys from age 12 to 77 for interrogation. The Serb forces then executed 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys and buried their bodies in mass graves. During the attack, Mladic’s forces also captured and held hostage more than 200 military observers and U.N. peacekeepers in retaliation for the NATO air raids against the Bosnian Serb army.
At the end of the Bosnian war, Mladic returned to Belgrade where he is said to have lived openly in the city with the support of Serbia’s President Milosevic. When Milosevic was arrested and extradited to The Hague to face war crimes charges of his own, Mladic went into hiding. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has accused the Serb military of sheltering Mladic, and the current Serbian government recently admitted this was true.
The European Union set a March 31,, 2006 deadline for his surrender and has threatened to freeze negotiations on Serbia’s entry into the European Union if the country fails to turn him over.