Nevenka Tromp, a professor at the University of Amsterdam, who spent 12 years as a researcher at The Hague, spoke about the expectations of the second-instance verdict against Ratko Mladic, which will be pronounced by the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism for Criminal Courts tomorrow, on Tuesday, June 8th.
Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life in prison in the first-instance verdict for the genocide in Srebrenica and war crimes. The greatest indignation among the victims at that time was caused by the fact that Mladic was convicted only for the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, but not on the count of the indictment that charged him with the genocide from 1992 in six other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Also, there was no verdict on the international armed conflict on the territory of BiH, which would include Serbia from May 19th, 1992.
A very good connoisseur of the work and practice of the Hague Tribunal, more precisely the Mechanism that succeeded it, analyzed how realistic it is to change that in the final verdict.
”At this point, we can expect several scenarios,” told prof. Tromp at the beginning of the conversation.
Scenario 1: Confirmation of the 2017 verdict
The first possibility, as she explains, is to almost completely repeat the invalid verdict from 2017.
According to that verdict, General Mladic was sentenced to life in prison. But, he was not convicted on charges of genocide in 1992 in six municipalities – two of which are in eastern Bosnia – Podrinje (Vlasenica and Foca); one in northern Bosnia-Posavina (Prijedor) and three in the north-western part of Bosnia-Krajina (Kljuc, Kotor Varos, Sanski Most), nor was there a verdict on an international armed conflict in the territory of BiH involving Serbia from May 19th, 1992 onwards. Joint criminal enterprises (JCE) or connections between Mladic and individuals from Serbia have not been proven either. Judges concluded in 2017 that the Prosecution did not prove Mladic’s connections to Milosevic, Stanisic, Simatovic, Seselj, or Arkan – since only their names were mentioned in the indictment against Mladic, recalls prof. Tromp.
Scenario 2: Respecting the defense’s demands would be a disaster
The second scenario, she explains, is that Mladic could be acquitted on all counts of the indictment as requested by his defense.
“This is, of course, an unlikely option and it is difficult to do so on a legal basis: in Mladic’s case, the prosecution had the opportunity to consolidate and use all the evidence that was available in the Popovic, Karadzic, Krstic, and Tolimir cases. However, when the acquittal scenario is mentioned before this final verdict, it has to do with the distrust of the Tribunal that arose after a number of acquittals that are difficult to legally explain by the court. Those acquittals were difficult to be accepted by the public, that is by the victims. In the first place, I am referring to the final verdict against General Momcilo Perisic in 2013, who since 1993, when he got his function, has been the superior of Ratko Mladic, who was not only the military commander of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) but was also commander of the 30th Personnel Center of the Yugoslav Army. I cannot see how the Tribunal could reach a verdict of acquittal and I think that it will happen, ” noted prof. Tromp.
Scenario 3: Compromise verdict and Prijedor
According to Professor Tromp, the third scenario is that the Tribunal will pass a compromise verdict that would meet the victims of genocide so that he is convicted for genocide in at least one municipality in 1992.
Part of the compromise that would meet the Serbian side in this scenario, she added, would be the confirmation of the provision of the invalid verdict – if there was no international armed conflict in which Serbia participated from May 19th, 1992 onwards. Furthermore, she said that it would be confirmed that the Prosecution did not prove the JCE link between Mladic and Milosevic and other individuals at the Serbian level.
Scenario 4: Genocide in six more municipalities
The fourth option is an ideal scenario, says prof. Tromp. Althoughsshe stresses that it is very unlikely, she thinks it would be good to articulate it.
“Ideally, this final verdict would confirm that the crime of genocide was committed in 1992 in the six municipalities mentioned. It would complete the genocidal process and show that crimes against the non-Serb population were carefully planned and carried out in those regions that are mentioned in the famous document Six Strategic Goals published by the Assembly of the RS in May 1992. If a decision were made to genocide in Prijedor, for example, not only Bosnian Muslims would be protected by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide but also Bosnian Croats, ” said the interlocutor, Klix