The “Butcher of Bosnia,” Ratko Mladić, Finally Sentenced for War Crimes

For some, justice comes swiftly and for others it can take years, even decades. Such is the case of Ratko Mladić, former general of the Bosnian Serb Army who is now a convicted war criminal. It took 22 years to sentence Mladić after his initial indictment. This is the story of how the “Butcher of Bosnia” was brought to justice.

Ratko Mladić’s Command and Crimes

Ratko Mladić’s crimes stem from his time as the leader of the Bosnian Serb Army during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995.

The biggest conflict was the Siege of Sarajevo, a siege of the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina that lasted four years. One of the key features of that siege were snipers who aimed at not only military targets but civilian ones as well, one of the many war crimes that Mladić would be indicted for.

While there were numerous atrocities that built the case against Mladić for war crimes, the Srebrenica Massacre stands out above the others. On the morning of July 12, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces, under the command of Mladić, began to separate Muslim men and boys from the rest of the refugee population of Potočari.

Over the next few days, they were murdered and thrown into mass graves. Many others were tortured first. Some were even buried alive. Soldiers often raped the women who were left behind.

By the end of the massacre, approximately 8,300 people had been murdered. Shortly after this, Mladić was indicted for war crimes on July 24, 1995.

The Road to Justice

Despite the indictment, Ratko Mladić lived a fairly comfortable life in retirement, even pulling a pension for a time. He was long protected by both friends and family, with his family even going so far as requesting that he be declared dead.

Mladić was finally caught in May 2011 and brought to The Hague for trial. Mladić’s trial began in May 2012.  While he used every loophole he could to avoid justice, he was finally found guilty of 10 out of 11 war crime charges and sentenced to life in prison. The verdict was delivered on November 22, 2017.