After Reconciliation. On the Closure of the ICTY in The Hague

The court house of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague – Photo: Julian Nitzsche [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

With the conviction of Ratko Mladić and sentence of life imprisonment imposed in November 2017 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, one of the main people responsible for the crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been called to account. The former Bosnian Serb general was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the genocide in Srebrenica, the siege of Sarajevo and further crimes against humanity.

The extent of the sentence will give some satisfaction to many of the victims. Mladić, however, has not accepted his guilt. He insulted the judges, disrupted trial proceedings and showed himself recalcitrant in confronting reality. This unites him with other defendants indicted by the UN Tribunal. The former Bosnian Croat general, Slobodan Praljak, dramatically staged his rejection of the court in an absolute act of defiance. As the appeal judgment was delivered he declared, „Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal“. Then, in full view of the astonished judges and the world public, he drank poison and subsequently died. The Serbian warmonger, Vojislav Šešelj, praised the act of suicide as ’heroic’. He knew the Croatian defendant from his own internment in The Hague. This blogpost reflects on the closure of the ICTY, its achievements, and its legacy.