Felicia Muftic: Two mass murderers brought to justice
July 21, 2011
The year 2011 will be remembered as the year two mass murders were caught.
Osama Bin Laden was one. The other, the Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic, was indicted by the Hague Tribunal for crafting and carrying out ethnic cleansing in the Balkan wars of the 1990s . He was arrested in May and his trial has begun.
The Balkan wars had been forgotten by many except the European Union, which put handing over Mladic as one of the conditions for Serbia’s admittance. Mladic was the second high profile Serb to sit in the dock at the Hague. The other was Slobodan Milosovic.
A three-year siege of Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, which resulted in the death of 10,000 Muslims and Catholics, was overseen by Mladic. The world, and particularly Europe, dithered in the name of “fairness” to both sides. It was the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim males between the ages of 10 and 77 in Srebenica in 1995 that was the catalyst for worldwide outrage, which ended the phase of the war that dragged on in Kosovo, ending with NATO bombing Belgrade. The war crimes court in the Hague had indicted Mladic in 1996 for carrying out the massacre.
Bin Laden’s admitted masterminding of Sept. 11 and Mladic’s Srebenica outraged the Western world and the West drew a line of behavior that was Post World War II unacceptable. Both used terror and the killing of innocents to advance their hate-based goals. Terror, which Mladic practiced to force Muslims and Croatian Catholics out of predominantly Serbian areas, was honed finely, using rape as a calculated tool and mass executions to eliminate groups. The ethnic division he engineered exists today in modern Bosnia, which is ungovernable, ungoverned, and poor.
It is suspected that Osama’s supporters within Pakistan made it possible for him to live in plain sight for six years there. Until 2001 Mladic had been living a normal, open life in Belgrade, Serbia, under the protection of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian president, even though the Hague had issued arrest warrants in 1995. Milosovic was finally deposed and brought to the Hague in 2001 (where he died of natural causes during the trial). After 2001, some believe Mladic lived among cousins and other Bosnian Serb refugees in northern Serbia, though he kept undercover and was suspected to have been protected by elements of the Serbian military.
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In 2007, a younger generation of Serbs, feeling the results of a poor economy, elected a younger leader, Boris Tadic. Even then, it took three years to “find” Mladic. Serbians began to see membership in the European Unions as a way out of their depressed economy, enough so that the desire for moving on outweighed the Serbian nationalism that had protected Mladic.
The EU was to meet in this coming November to begin the long process to admit Serbia to the EU, but failure to capture Mladic was their deal killer. He was found, though it is believed U.S. and U.K. special forces helped, but the actual arrest was credited to the Serbs themselves.
Mladic so far has been disruptive in the courtroom. He will probably try to claim he knew nothing and was not in control. The Hague Court has always been condemned by die hard Serbian nationalist supporters as anti-Serb. Sixteen years of evidence gathering and a pledge by President Tadic to bring to justice to Mladic’s lieutenants may make the Mladic defense a weak one.
Perhaps now Serbia can move forward toward a better economy and connections with Western Europe as it begins the long process to meet the other criteria of EU admittance.
Perhaps now Bosnia can also begin to heal, though memories of such atrocities will take generations to dim. Perhaps now that the tyrants of this world who are motivated by ethnic and religious hatred to use terrorism as a tool know that eventually they will pay for their outrages against humanity.
For more commentary, visit http://www.mufticforum.com
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