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Ratko Mladic trial: Final arguments in Bosnia war crimes case

Ratko Mladic in court in The Hague, 5 Dec 16 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ratko Mladic appeared frail but listened intently in court

Prosecutors have begun their closing arguments at the war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in The Hague.

The 74-year-old, nicknamed "the Butcher of Bosnia", faces two counts of genocide and nine of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the public gallery at the UN tribunal sat some wives and mothers of Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys slaughtered in Srebrenica.

It is the tribunal's last big trial.

A verdict is expected in 2017, as the closing arguments are expected to last more than a week.

Mr Mladic is a top suspect in the massacre of more than 8,000 men and boys from the Srebrenica enclave. It happened over a few days in the summer of 1995 - part of an alleged plan to exterminate the Bosniaks and create an ethnically pure Serb state.

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Srebrenica tries to move on from massacre

Today Mr Mladic is physically frail but still watched intently as the prosecution played a video clip in court, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports. It showed him as the commander, in military fatigues, warning Bosniak representatives: "You can either survive or disappear".

He is also accused over the Serbs' 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which an estimated 10,000 people died.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Siege of Sarajevo, 1992: Civilians endured frequent Serb shelling and sniper fire from the hills

Mr Mladic was arrested in Serbia in May 2011, and his trial began soon after at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He had been on the run for 16 years.

The Bosnian Serb political leader during the 1990s war, Radovan Karadzic, was sentenced to 40 years in March.

The ICTY was set up in 1993 and has concluded proceedings for 154 accused, 83 of whom have been sentenced. The only current trial is that of Mr Mladic, and the court's work is scheduled to be wound up.

Before 1993 the only previous international war crimes courts were those established to convict Nazi and Japanese war criminals after World War Two, the ICTY website says.

Mladic trial

  • 3 June 2011: Trial begins. Mladic says charges are "monstrous" and "obnoxious"
  • October 2011: Mladic admitted to Dutch hospital and in November found not to be in a condition to follow the trial (first of many suspensions over his health)
  • 17 May 2012: Trial adjourned due to prosecution "errors"
  • 18 June 2012: Trial suspended until further notice
  • 9 July 2012: First witness heard
  • 10 April 2013: Mladic removed from court after muttering during testimony of Srebrenica survivor
  • 19 May 2014: Defence in trial begins
  • 5 December 2016: Prosecutors begin closing arguments

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