Home Dutch News The fate of key figures of the Balkans wars

The fate of key figures of the Balkans wars

Published on June 24, 2020

The bloody conflict between Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslims and Croats was part of several Balkans conflicts that followed the break-up of former Yugoslavia and the fall of communism.

On Wednesday a Hague-based tribunal said Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci had been charged with 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1990s hostilities.

Here is a rundown of the fate of other key players in the Balkan wars, which together claimed more than 100,000 lives.

– Appeals underway –

– Ratko Mladic: A former Bosnian Serb military leader dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia, he was arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run.

Mladic was convicted for genocide and war crimes, including over the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre, and sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2017.

He appealed in March 2018 and the case is still to be resolved.

– Jailed –

– Radovan Karadzic: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in The Hague found the former Bosnian Serb leader guilty in 2016 of genocide and nine other charges including extermination, deportations and hostage-taking.

His appeal hearing opened in April 2018 and in March 2019 his sentence was increased to life in prison.

The judges later threw out a last-ditch attempt for a renewed appeal, saying it had “no legal basis.”

Karadzic is behind bars at the UN’s high-security detention unit in The Hague.

The genocide conviction arose from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in eastern Bosnia in which almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered.

Karadzic evaded capture for 13 years until he was arrested in 2008 on a Belgrade bus, wearing a bushy beard and masquerading as a New Age healer.

– Biljana Plavsic: Former president of the Bosnian Serbs’ self-declared Republika Srpska and the only woman convicted by the ICTY, she pleaded guilty to war crimes and was sentenced to 11 years in jail in 2003.

She was granted early release in 2009.

– Vojislav Seselj: UN judges in 2018 found the radical Serb parliamentarian guilty on appeal of crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 10 years.

As he had already spent almost 12 years in detention in The Hague between 2003 to 2014, he remained free.

An ally of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, the court found Seselj was behind the murder of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs, as well as mass forced deportations.

– Acquitted –

– Ante Gotovina: The retired Croatian army general, considered a war hero by many Croats, was initially sentenced to 24 years in jail for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

He was acquitted on appeal in 2012.

– Deceased –

– Milosevic: The former president died in his cell at the ICTY in 2006, aged 64, while on trial for 66 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. An official report said he had suffered a heart attack.

He was accused of fuelling ethnic conflict and mass murder in the former Yugoslavia during his 13-year rule.

– Franjo Tudjman: The Croatian president, whose war of independence from the Yugoslav federation claimed about 20,000 lives, died of cancer in 1999 aged 77.

The ICTY said he would have been indicted for war crimes had he lived.

– Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic: The head of the feared Serb “Tigers” paramilitary outfit, he was indicted in 1997 by the Hague court for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Bosnia in 1995.

He was gunned down aged 47 in January 2000 in a Belgrade hotel.

– Slobodan Praljak: The former Bosnian Croat military commander committed suicide at age 72 before news cameras by drinking cyanide in court in November 2017, just after appeal judges upheld his 20-year jail term.