MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. The verdict of the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) in The Hague to uphold the life sentence against Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, proves that international institutions investigating and prosecuting crimes in the former Yugoslavia show bias, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday following the tribunal’s verdict against Mladic.
"The conviction of Ratko Mladic has once again demonstrated that the international mechanisms that were established to hold accountable those guilty of crimes committed during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia are in practice biased against one party to the conflict," she noted.
Zakharova pointed out that the verdict against Mladic looks especially hypocritical after The Hague acquitted Bosnian, Croatian, and Kosovo military personnel. According to Zakharova, the international judicial institutions for war crimes during Yugoslavia’s breakup undermine the efforts to rebuild trust in the region.
"The distinctive features of the Residual Mechanism and its predecessor, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ignore the facts and historical context of the events related to Yugoslavia’s breakup, and undermine the efforts aimed at resolving the impact of the conflict and at restoring trust in the Balkans," the diplomat said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman emphasized that the rights of Mladic as a convict had been violated numerously during the trial. In particular, the former commander had been denied proper medical assistance for a few years, while the requests for Mladic’s temporary release to receive medical treatment in either Russia or Serbia had been turned down.
"We proceed from that fact that the work of the Residual Mechanism in the cases on the former Yugoslavia should stop at the soonest possible time, and then this shameful chapter in the history of international criminal justice will be closed," Zakharova concluded.
About the issue
Mladic had been on the run for nearly 16 years until he was arrested in Serbia in May 2011 and extradited to The Hague. On November 22, 2017, he was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to life in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity, and the violation of laws and customs of war. The Tribunal found the former Bosnian Serb army commander guilty on 10 out of 11 counts, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Srebrenica. He was cleared of the first count (genocide on six territories of Bosnia-Herzegovina).
In March 2018, Mladic’s lawyers appealed against the verdict to the IRMCT, which was mandated to perform the functions carried out previously by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (closed on December 31, 2017) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (closed on December 31, 2015). The defense demanded all the mistakes made during the trial be corrected and Mladic be cleared of the ten counts he had been found guilty of before.
On June 8, 2021, the IRMCT upheld the verdict against Mladic.