Appeals judges will hand down a verdict against former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on Tuesday, ending the last Bosnian genocide trial before the U.N. court for the former Yugoslavia.
Mladic, 78, led Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. He was convicted in 2017 on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes including terrorizing the civilian population of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during a 43-month siege, and the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995.
Judges will start reading out their ruling at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT).
Srebrenica remains the only episode of genocide on European soil after World War Two recognized by two international courts.
The verdict comes after 25 years of trials at the ad hoc United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia which convicted 90 people. It is widely considered to be one of the predecessors of the International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent war crimes court, also seated in The Hague.
U.N. prosecutor Serge Brammertz stressed the importance of the Mladic ruling for victims who live with the trauma of the 1990s conflict daily.
“If you speak to the survivors, the mothers (of Srebrenica) who lost their husbands, their sons: their lives really stopped on the day of the genocide,” he told journalists ahead of the verdict.
In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo residents lamented that Mladic was still seen as a hero in the Serb-dominated region of the ethnically divided country.
“Twenty-five years later, I feel as if the war is not over,” said Mela Softic, 37, a marketing specialist who spent her childhood in besieged Sarajevo.
Lawyers for Mladic appealed his conviction and argued the former general could not be held responsible for possible crimes committed by his subordinates. They asked for an acquittal or a retrial.
Prosecutors want Mladic’s conviction to be upheld, along with his life sentence.