BBC: Hague Tribunal to Close?

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As the trial of General Ratko Mladic, overall commander of Bosnian Serb forces during the war of 1992-1995 comes to a close, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will effectively shut up shop.

But questions will remain about the fate of hundreds of others accused of violating the laws of war. Bosnia Herzegovina will continue to try people in its courts, but in that republic the question of going on with prosecutions divides opinion.

During the 24 years of its work the Tribunal indicted more than 160 people. They ranged from guards at the infamous Omarska camp, where non-Serbs were held in appalling conditions in 1992, to the architects of the assault on Srebrenica three years later, where more than 8,000 Muslim men were murdered.

When Mevludin Oric goes back to eastern Bosnia he sometimes spots men who he last saw in 1995 executing hundred of his kin from Srebrenica. “They are walking, laughing in my face,” says Mevludin, “and saying ‘I am the one who killed Muslims, Turks’ and they are walking free”.

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first met Mevludin in 1996, a few months after he had played dead in order to survive the machine-gunning of hundreds of prisoners by Serb troops. He gave evidence in three trials in The Hague.

Today his features have aged even more than you would expect over that passage of time and it is quite clear that Mevludin has never been able to put those terrible events behind him.

He does not see the issue of war crimes even-handedly either. His cousin, Nasser Oric, was a well known commander of Muslim forces in Srebrenica who himself stood trial in the Hague, accused of murdering Serb prisoners.

He was acquitted, but a subsequent prosecution was launched in a Bosnian court last year. When it was thrown out the day after our filming, Mevludin was jubilant.

“Every people, Serbs, Muslim, Croats, consider those indicted from their own people as not guilty, but they consider only ‘the others’ guilty,” says former Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, noting “there is a lot of subjectivity.”


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