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Bosnian Mass Grave Provides New Evidence in Military Chief's Genocide Trial

In a rare move, a judge reopened the case of Gen. Ratko Mladic, allowing prosecutors to present new evidence from a mass grave discovered in 2013.

by VICE News
Jun 22 2015, 7:15pm

Photo by Reuters

The discovery of more than 400 bodies in a mass grave in Bosnia has given international prosecutors the opportunity to reopen the Yugoslav war crimes case against a former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic.

In a rare move, a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) reopened Mladic's case on Monday, allowing prosecutors to present new evidence gleaned from the Tomasica mass grave discovered in Bosnia in 2013. According to prosecutors, the grave shows that Bosnian Serb forces were involved in the murder and burial of non-Serbs while operating under Mladic's rule.

An anonymous witness testified to a mostly closed court session in front of a three-judge panel. Mladic, who represented himself during the initial defense proceedings, reportedly did not speak during Monday's hearing.

The 73-year-old Mladic has maintained his innocence in the face of a list of charges that include genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes connected with the role he allegedly played in orchestrating atrocities committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the country's ethnic-fueled war of the 1990s.

Related: Balkan Wartime Rape Victims Continue to Face Hardships Decades After Conflict

Prosecutors on the case, which is being held at the Hague, wrapped up the initial evidence proceedings in February 2014, followed by three months of defense laid out by Mladic himself. Judges gave the prosecution the opportunity to reopen the case due to the fact that the mass grave had not been properly analyzed by the time they concluded their case.

The more than 400 bodies uncovered in the Tomasica grave were Bosnian Muslims and Croats killed in northwest Bosnia in 1992 by Serb forces accused of attempting to establish a ethnically pure Serb state in parts of Bosnia and Croatia. An estimated 10,000 Bosnians remain missing from the war that lasted from 1992 to 1995.

The UN established the ICTY in 1993, and the tribunal has since heard cases related to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. More than 160 people from throughout former Yugoslavia have been hit with charges by the court, and Mladic's case is one of the last still underway. Another pending case involves Radovan Karadzic, also known as the Bosnian Butcher, Mladic's former boss and the alleged mastermind behind Serbian atrocities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related: After the Flood: Mines and Mass Graves in Bosnia

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