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MIXED FEELINGS OF VICTIMS AT MLADIC'S TRIAL
Representatives of Bosnian victims, who attended the start of Ratko Mladic's trial in the Hague, hope that the defendant will live long enough to hear his verdict.
During the presentation of the opening statements at the start of Ratko Mladic’s trial in front of the Hague Tribunal, the defendant and attending public were warned not to use gestures, otherwise a screen would be placed between them.
Representatives of more than 20 victims’ associations attending the trial claimed that the defendant made gestures toward them and pointed his finger.
On the other hand, the accused addressed the Trial Chamber and claimed the public was making certain gestures towards him.
The presiding judge, Alphons Orie, said it did not matter which side started the gesturing, but that the communication must stop. The gestures stopped afterwards.
Representatives of victims’ associations from Srebrenica said they hope that he will be found guilty of genocide.
“Mladic is the biggest villain of the past century. If he is found guilty it will be a great satisfaction. We have mixed feelings, from hope to disappointment. However, we are also angry that he is acting as if everything is ok,” Sacir from Srebrenica said.
The indictment charges Mladic with genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and several other Bosnian municipalities in 1992. He is also charged with the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from municipalities under the control of Bosnian Serbs, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a campaign of shelling and sniping and taking international soldiers as hostages in 1995.
All victims said that they hope Mladic would live long enough to hear his verdict. Sehida Abdurahmanovic from Srebrenica, said after the Hague prosecution presented its opening statements that she cannot describe her feelings.
“I am happy that today I can look at the eyes of the villain, monster. We pray to God to give him long life so that he can live to the end of the trial”, said Abdurahmanovic, adding that she hopes Mladic would be found guilty on all counts of the indictment.
Victims said that Mladic nodded his head during the opening statements, which they understood to mean that he was “accepting everything was true”. They added that they were unhappy the prosecution did not charge Mladic with all of the crimes committed during the war in Bosnia.
“We are disappointed because the prosecution dropped from the indictment some municipalities where many crimes were committed,” said Mehmed Music, adding it was not easy for him to look at Mladic in the courtroom.
Representatives of victims from Bosnia said no one can repay them the sufferings they have lived through, but they hope to get some satisfaction from the final verdict.
''Mladic has full care in his prison and I hope that will continue so that he can survive until the verdict. I do not know how the victims would react if he did not survive,” said Munevera Avdic from Kotor Varos.
Human rights activists, led by the Society for Threatened Peoples, held a vigil in front of the court building to recall the responsibility of the European powers for the crimes committed in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. Activists' banners proclaimed “France, Russia, Great Britain and Germany – Guilty TOO”.