Friday, 27 May 2011

Ratko Mladic: the next fiasco waiting to happen?

General Ratko Mladic has been apprehended in a village in northern Serbia, not more than 100 miles from Belgrade. He's wanted in connected with the massacre of Bosnian muslims during the Yugoslav civil war.

The plan seems to be to extradite him from Serbia, take him to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague and try him for genocide.

The ICTY will need to raise its game. Look at its inglorious record so far...

Slobodan Milošević: President of Serbia  1989-1997, arrested in 2001 and taken to the Hague, trial started 2001. Complained of heart problems during the trial - was refused leave to seek treatment. Died 2006 of heart attack after an inconclusive 5-year trial.

Radovan Karadžić: President of the Serbian part of Bosnia 1992-1996.  Accused of ordering the Srebrenica massacre where 8,000 muslims died. Arrested and taken to the Hague in 2008 where he was served with a one million page legal document. His trial is on-going and it's likely he will need until 2016 to finish reading the indictment.

General Ratko Mladic: Chief-of-Staff of the Bosnian-Serb army 1992 1995. Accused of involvement in the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre. Now 69 years old. Already seems to be suffering from health problems, and may even have chosen to come out of hiding in order to get medical treatment not available in a small village in northern Serbia.

It remains to be seen if the ITCY has learnt any sort of lesson from its previous failures. They need to level specimen charges at him, charges sufficiently concise that a trial can be completed while the accused is still alive. In England a murder trial rarely takes longer than two weeks. Running trials that last for years serves no one's interest apart from the lawyers paid by the hour from our taxes.

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