Time has come for justice, Mladic's victims say

SARAJEVO: The time has finally come for Ratko Mladic to face justice, victims' families said Monday en route from Sarajevo to The Hague for Wednesday's expected verdict in a UN court against the Bosnian Serb wartime military chief.

"The time has finally come to condemn the criminal and butcher Ratko Mladic," Kada Hotic, member of an association of Srebrenica mothers, told AFP before boarding a plane for the Netherlands to attend the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The former general faces 11 counts arising from Bosnia's 1992-1995 war which claimed more than 100,000 lives.

Mladic is charged notably over the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo and the massacre of Srebrenica Muslims, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Hotic's relatives, including her husband and a son, are "all under ground, while they were all alive before Mladic's arrival" in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, she said.

"We are still searching for some of them in mass graves in order to bury them."

Hotic sought the "heaviest possible sentence" against Mladic, whom she labelled the "absolute issuer of orders for crimes."

"I expect that Mladic be condemned to the heaviest sentence, which means for life and that the entire indictment be confirmed," said Fikret Grabovica, head of an association of parents whose children were killed during the Sarajevo siege.

His daughter Irma was 11 years old when she was killed in front of her house.

"We expect that he (Mladic) be found guilty of genocide not only in Srebrenica but also in other towns," said Munira Subasic, president of the association of mothers from the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves.

The Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim boys and men trying to flee the ill-fated town after it fell to Serb forces was deemed genocide by international justice.

The last verdict to be pronounced by the ICTY is the "most important since it is about the man who was the main one responsible for the murders," Subasic added.

"He is responsible for genocide. His intentions were the kill the largest number of people, to rape and expel the largest number of people to achieve an ethnically clean territory," she concluded.

Mladic was captured in 2011 in northern Serbia after 16 years on the run.

At his first court appearance in 2011 he denied all the charges, describing them as "obnoxious." — AFP