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Former Bosnian Serb general Mladić convicted of genocide, war crimes for ethnic cleansing campaign

Former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić was convicted today on 10 counts of genocide and other war crimes committed during an ethnic cleansing campaign helped lead from 1992 to 1995 in the former Yugoslavia. A UN tribunal sentenced Mladić to life in prison, a decision Mladić says he’ll appeal. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we reported earlier, the Serbian military commander Ratko Mladic was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal Balkan civil war that tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant covered the conflict then, and reports now from Bosnia on today's decision.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    Mladic had spent 14 years on the run before being captured, and in the weeks before today's finale, his lawyers had tried in vain to delay proceedings.

    The so-called butcher of Bosnia didn't hear the convictions or sentence being delivered. He was kicked out of court after an outburst in which he denounced the tribunal and its proceedings in vulgar terms.

  • Man:

    Mr. Mladic, sit. We adjourn. Mr. Mladic will be removed from the courtroom.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    With Mladic taken to the cells and silence restored, the judge ran through the charge sheet, guilty on 10 out of 11 indictments.

  • Judge Alphons Orie:

    Guilty, as a member of various joint criminal enterprises, of the following counts, count two, genocide, count three, persecution, a crime against humanity.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    The charges mainly related to Mladic's supervision of the massacre of Bosnian men and boys after the Serbs overran Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.

    The men were separated from the women, who were put on buses and driven away. Most of their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers were never seen again.

  • Judge Alphons Orie:

    For having committed these crimes, the chamber sentences Mr. Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    Mladic's conviction wraps up the prosecution of the main three instigators of Bosnia's ethnic cleansing.

    The Bosnian Serbs' political leader, Radovan Karadzic, was found guilty of similar charges last year. And Slobodan Milosevic, the architect of Serbian expansionism after the collapse of former Yugoslavia, died in his prison cell from a heart attack.

    The court proceedings were watched by relatives of those massacred in Srebrenica. There was relief that, given Mladic's age and health problems, the life sentence will probably mean that he will die in prison.

    Hatidza Mehmedovic (through interpreter): This should mean a lot for justice and reconciliation, if the other side is willing to look into the facts and accept the arguments to move towards a better future, and to stop negating the genocide and all the happenings in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    Mladic was also found guilty of killing civilians in Sarajevo during the long siege. It still bears the scars of Serb mortar rounds, as does former child soldier Almir Garbo, who has post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing his friends blown to pieces by Mladic's forces during the siege.

    Almir Garbo (through interpreter): For me, Mladic is a monster. Only a monster can kill children and order a massacre of children and raping little girls.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    There has been some criticism of the length of time the war crimes tribunal took to deliver verdicts, but longtime Sarajevo-based speechwriter and adviser Kevin Sullivan, who was wounded during the conflict, is satisfied justice has finally prevailed.

  • Kevin Sullivan:

    In terms of closure, I think each individual has to reach their own closure. Politically, I think this is important, because it shows that you don't have to throw your hands up and say there is nothing can be done.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    Ratko Mladic may have lost the war after NATO intervened. He may have faced justice at the first war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg, but still he's a victor of sorts. He fought for ethnic cleansing, and, to an extent, he succeeded.

    Sarajevo, once a beacon is multi-ethnicity, is now predominantly Muslim city. Most Serbs and Croats have left. Bosnia remains divided. And many Serbs regard him as a war hero, not a war criminal.

    In the Serbian town of Novi Sad, there was anger at what some perceived as victor's justice.

    Jasmina Stojcic (through interpreter): I have no comment. Really, what a verdict. The man should have been released to go home, not sent to prison, because he is guilty of nothing.

    Miroljub Sekulic (through interpreter): Well, disgusting, disgusting because Mladic represent us, us the people, who are innocent. They will brand us guilty, nothing else.

  • Malcolm Brabant:

    Mladic's lawyer announced he will appeal the verdicts, but as far as the people he wanted to eradicate are concerned, these gravestones don't lie.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Malcolm Brabant in Sarajevo.

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