‘Butcher of Bosnia’ Ratko Mladic due in court to hear final verdict as he appeals against genocide

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys perished in 10 days of slaughter after Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic on July 11, 1995. 

It is the only episode of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war to be defined as genocide by two UN courts. 

Serb captors had promised a prisoner exchange. 

But when the soon-to-be victims clambered off trucks with other Muslim captives, they saw only a green hillside covered with bodies.

In the next hours, first under the July sun and then, at night, by the headlights of two industrial diggers, as many as 3,000 Muslim men captured when Serbs overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica were gunned down. 

The body of a victim of the Srebrenica massacre lies in a mass grave in Budak, some 500 metres away from Potocari

Mladic visited a warehouse where the Muslims were being held and told the group they would be exchanged for Serb prisoners of war. 

But instead of heading to the front line, they were taken to a sweltering sports hall in Krizevci, about 22 miles north of Srebrenica. Through the night, bus after bus arrived. 

The sports hall was roughly 600 square yards and four to five men were packed into a square yard, for a total of 2,400-3,000.

The men rested on each other. Those who couldn’t sit, stood.  Mladic appeared again on July 14, three days after the fall of Srebrenica. The general, accompanied by aides, greeted the prisoners by saying, ‘Hello, neighbors.’

‘We started yelling at him, ‘Why are you suffocating us here? Better kill us all,” Suljic said. 

Finally, the prisoner exchange was said to be ready. Men were given water for the first time since arriving in Krizevci. 

Then, they were placed in two small trucks with 10 to 15 men a truck. As the open-back trucks left, they were followed by a red car. 

When they arrived at their destination, they were told to get out onto the grass and stand with their backs to the the soldiers.  There were two firing squads of five soldiers each, armed with automatic rifles.

A mass grave on a hill overlooking the Memorial and Cemetery in Potocari, which is still being processed by the ICMP (International Commission for Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia)

A mass grave on a hill overlooking the Memorial and Cemetery in Potocari, which is still being processed by the ICMP (International Commission for Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia)

In intervals between the shooting, a Serb soldier walked among the bodies and finished off those still moving with a pistol shot to the head.

Thirty feet away, an industrial digger was preparing a mass grave.  Group by group, trucks brought prisoners, who were gunned down in turn.  When it became too dark to see, the soldiers used the headlights of two backhoes.

The International Red Cross has said 8,000 of the 42,000 people in Srebrenica before its fall to Serbs remain unaccounted for.

US spy photos have indicated mass graves around Nova Kasaba, west of Srebrenica. Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council as many as 2,700 people might be buried there.

The Serbs deny mass executions, suggesting the remains are those of some of 3,000 Bosnian government soldiers killed defending Srebrenica. 

The Serbs have rejected UN demands for access to the area, though journalists who have slipped in have reported evidence of human remains. 

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