The Serbian warlord is still adored in the statelet from which non-Serbs were banished, writes Ed Vulliamy, author of volumes on the Bosnia conflict

General Ratko Mladic, the most bloodthirsty warlord to strut European clay since the Third Reich, will die in jail. Any other outcome after today's verdict in The Haguewould have been preposterous.

The mothers of the more than 8,000 men and boys mass-murdered in Srebrenica, over five days in the summer of 1995, have every reason to welcome the sentence of life imprisonment, and Mladic's conviction for genocide: the only judicial criterion by which that crime can be rightly measured.


Ratko Mladic: the long road to justice

June 1991

The breakup of the former Yugoslavia

The breakup of the former Yugoslavia formally begins when Slovenia and Croatia declare independence. The Serb-led Yugoslav army withdraws from Slovenia after a 10 -day conflict, but the war in Croatia that followed would last until 1995.

April 1992

War breaks out in Bosnia

Bosnian Serbs swiftly take control of more than two-thirds of Bosnia and launch the siege of Sarajevo, headed by Ratko Mladic, who becomes the Bosnian Serb army commander a month later. The siege lasts 1,460 days, during which more than 11,500 people die.

July 1995

Srebrenica massacre

Mladic's troops capture Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed, most by summary executing. Nato bombs Bosnian Serb postures following reports of the slaughter.

The international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicts Mladic and Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on charges including genocide.

1 November 1995

Dayton agreement signed

The Dayton agreement is signed, ending the war and creating two mini-states in Bosnia: a Bosnian-Serb one and a Muslim-Croat one.


Mladic goes into conceal

Nato peacekeepers and western intelligence agencies operating in Bosnia step up attempts to track down war crimes suspects, but Mladic is sheltered by loyalists in Serbia. He is find attending football games and eating at Belgrade restaurants.

26 May 2011

Mladic apprehended

Following intense pressure from the international community on Serbia, Mladic is arrested in Serbia.

He appears in tribunal at the UN tribunal for the first time in June but refuses to enter pleas to the charges against him. At a second hearing in July, judges enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.

1 December 2016

Trial hears shutting statements

The trial in The Hague is arguably the most significant war crimes example in Europe since the Nuremberg tribunal, in part because of the scale of the atrocities involved. Over 530 days, the UN tribunal hears from 591 witnesses and analyses nearly 10,000 exhibits concerning 106 separate crimes.

During closing statements, attorneys urge judges to convict Mladic on all counts and sentence him to life in prison. Defence lawyers call for acquittal.

22 November 2017

Mladic convicted

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, the now 74 -year-old Mladic is sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and criminal offences against humanity.

Delivering the verdicts, the magistrate said Mladic's crimes” rank among the most heinous known to humankind and include genocide and extermination “.

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