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War crimes trial for Ratko Mladic begins

By Layne Weiss     May 16, 2012 in Crime
The Hague - The long awaited trial of General Ratko Mladic began Wednesday, The Washington Post reports. Mladic is accused of being responsible for Europe's "worst massacre since World War II" killing 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July, 1995.
CNN reports that Mladic showed no remorse for any of his crimes as his trial began Wednesday.
The former general "drew his hand across his neck" to mimic a throat cutting as he stared at the people who survived his "ethnic cleansing" during the Bosnia War.
"The world watched with disbelief that in neighborhoods and villages within Europe, a genocide appeared to be in progress," prosecutor Dermot Groome said at the Hague Wednesday, The Washington Post is reporting.
Under Mladic's orders, detention camps were set up by Bosnian Serbs as part of a system of "terror and ethnic cleansing," the prosecutor said, according to The Telegraph.
"The detention camps were places of great suffering. Conditions were inhumane, insufficient to sustain farm animals, let alone human beings. Inmates were beaten, sometimes to death," Groome said.
Mladic, 70, has been indicted on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.
UN prosecutor Dermot Groome told the court Wednesday that he will set out to prove that "Mladic is directly responsible for atrocities carried out by his forces" during the war.
Groome also said that Mladic used sexual violence as a weapon during the war, CNN reports. He described a woman who said she had been raped over 50 times. He also said that Bosnian Serbs would force women to perform sex acts on members of their own families.
Groome said the survivors of Mladic's horror will testify in the trial. The prosecutors will also show video clips in their attempt to prove Mladic's guilt. The trial could last for months or even years.
According to The Washington Post, Groome suggested that the prosecution would also use Mladic's own words against him to prove their case. They will use diary entries and TV and radio appearances Mladic made during the war.
In one TV appearance, Mladic claimed that he had nothing to do with any war crimes, and that he had just been "defending" his people.
In another video, however, he brags about "killing someone in passing" whenever he goes to Sarajevo, as if it's just fun. "I go kick the hell out of the Turks," a disparaging term describing Bosnian Muslims.
While many in the court Wednesday looked at Mladic with disgust, he had many fans and supporters there as well.
According to The Washington Post , many actually applauded him as he entered the court.
"Mladic is our hero. It's sad that we see him here," said Milan Ivanovic, a 20-year old law student.
Mladic has been waiting in the same jail as his former political leader Radovan Karadzic," The Daily Mail reports. Karadzic was arrested in 2008. His trial, for charge almost identical to Mladic's, is halfway through.
Karadzic is also accused of the same atrocities which Mladic is accused of. Both men are also accused of a sniping and shelling campaign which took place during the 44 month siege of Sarajevo, The Daily Mail Reports.
Former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic was also put on trial at the Hague for the war against the Balkans in the 90s, The Washington Post reports, but he died of a heart attack in prison in 2006 before the judges could deliver their verdict.
Prosecutor Dermot Groome said the prosecution will use evidence from more than 400 witnesses, although very few of these witnesses will actually testify, The Washington Post reports. The first witness is scheduled to testify on May 29, but presiding judge Alphons Orie may postpone the trial because the prosecution has not disclosed all its evidence to Mladic's defense team.
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