Mladic: Bosnian Serb Army Chief

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 7:45 am (UTC-5)
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Former Bosnian-Serb Army Commander, General Ratko Mladic, is facing 11 charges, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the trial that starts Wednesday at a United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

The 70-year-old former commander, referred to by his critics as the “butcher of Bosnia,” is accused of ordering the massacre of about 8,000 men and boys outside the Bosnian city of Srebrenica and the bloody siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the early 1990s.

A career military man, Mladic trained at the military academy of the Yugoslav People's Army in Belgrade. As Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in the early 1990s, he was promoted to general colonel and took command of all Bosnian Serb military forces when they began fighting for a separate Serb state.

The Srebrenica massacre took place in 1995, when thousands of civilians had gathered in an area designated by the United Nations as a safe haven. Disregarding the U.N. designation, Bosnian Serb troops rounded up as many as 8,000 men and boys and slaughtered them over several days. Mass graves were later found in the surrounding area.

After the war, Mladic returned to Belgrade, where some experts believe he was supported and protected by then-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. But after Milosevic was arrested in 2001 and transferred to the Hague tribunal, Mladic went into hiding.

He was arrested in Serbia in May of last year after being a fugitive for 16 years. Experts say Mladic must have had support among the Serb military and secret services to avoid arrest for so many years.

The U.N. tribunal indicted him in 1995 along with his former ally, Bosnia's wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic.