The International Tribunal in The Hague issues its final decision on an appeal by former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic to his conviction for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
The ruling will bring down the curtain on the case of the man dubbed the “Balkan Butcher”, who was sentenced to life in prison by a United Nations war crimes tribunal in 2017.
It is expected that the ex-military, who was known for his strong structure and influence during the Balkan war (1992-1995), and who is now a sick 78-year-old man, will appear in court, where he had previously angrily denounced the West.
Outside the court, the mothers of the nearly 8,000 men and boys killed in the worst bloodbath on European soil since World War Two will rally.
“We will go to The Hague to stare again in the eyes of the executioner, while the final verdict is issued against him,” said Munira Subasic, president of the Association of “Srebrenica Mothers”.
Court Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the decision, telling reporters he was “unable to imagine the outcome of reversing the confirmation.”
Mladic, who spent a decade on the run before his arrest in 2011, was convicted of genocide in connection with the Srebrenica massacre, and of crimes against humanity in general during the Bosnian war.
The judges convicted him of being behind a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” aimed at removing Muslims and Bosnians from key areas to establish “Greater Serbia”, at a time when Yugoslavia was disintegrating.
The war claimed the lives of about 100,000 people, while 2.2 million were displaced. Prosecutors reported that he personally oversaw the massacre, which came as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign to expel Muslims, and took place in the enclave of Srebrenica, which was supposed to be under the protection of the United Nations.
Video recordings from that period showed him distributing sweets to children before they were taken with the women from the place on buses, while the townspeople were taken to a forest where they were executed.
Mladic was the military face of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
Milosevic died in his cell in The Hague of a heart attack in 2006 before his trial ended, while Karadzic is serving a life sentence for genocide in Srebrenica.