Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dermott Groome Opens Proceedings Against Ratko Mladic

My colleague Dermot Groome opened proceedings against Ratko Mladic after a long period of preparation.

("Ratko Mladic, right, the former Bosnian Serb military commander, at the start of his trial at The Hague on Wednesday."  Marelise Simons,  Former Bosnian Serb General Hears Indictment, and Insults, as Trial Opens, New York Times, May 16, 2012)

The New York Time nicely captured the first day.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mladic finally faced his judges as his trial opened at a United Nations tribunal here.

Sitting upright between two guards, Mr. Mladic, 70, looked more frail and aged than the burly soldier he once was, a power-strutting commander who inspired deep terror among Bosnian Muslims and Croats and great admiration in Serbia.

In the 12 months since he was brought to the court in The Hague, after hiding from it for 17 years under the protection of friends, he has not spoken of the past, let alone the 100,000 who died in Bosnia, except to ask for his military uniform. He has mostly complained about his age and ailments.

But on this day, as a prosecutor, Dermot Groome, presented his narrative of the war and what he described as Mr. Mladic’s leading role, Mr. Mladic seemed revived, even animated, by film shown in the court, scenes from the time he kept the city of Sarajevo under siege for 44 months of shelling and sniping at civilians. And he nodded approvingly as rousing political speeches from 1992 were replayed, calling on Bosnian Serbs to rally for war against perceived Muslim and Croatian enemies.

The court heard the prosecutor’s dry and methodical recitation of how, in ethnically mixed Bosnia, Serbian politicians and military leaders carefully planned a campaign of ethnic cleansing, attacking and terrorizing non-Serbian civilians to clear out whole regions and turn them into lands only for Serbs. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed or fled their homes. The campaign to divide Sarajevo, which the prosecutor said was “once a model of ethnic diversity,” left more than 10,000 people dead. He played the sounds of what he called radio intercepts in which Mr. Mladic was heard personally directing fire against civilian targets in Sarajevo’s Old Town. (From Marelise Simons,  Former Bosnian Serb General Hears Indictment, and Insults, as Trial Opens, New York Times, May 16, 2012).
The full videos of the start of trial of Ratko Mladić – Prosecution’s Opening Statements of 16 May and 17 May 2012 – are now available for viewing.

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