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POL/HTY 395: Genocide & Laws of War (Rimanelli): ICTY: War Crimes and the former Yugoslavia

Slobodan Milosevic

Communist President of Serbia, Milosevic was the first former head of state to answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and his was the longest war-crimes trial of modern times. "The complex indictment covered the events of three wars — in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo — and almost a decade of bloodshed and vengeance that killed more than 200,000 people and earned Mr. Milosevic the sobriquet 'Butcher of the Balkans.' " [NYTimes, March 12, 2006]

Milosevic was found dead in his cell at The Hague on March 11, 2006. His trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity has therefore ended without a verdict.


ICTY: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia



The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a body of the United Nations established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and to try their perpetrators. The tribunal is an ad hoc court which is located in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The Tribunal aims to complete all trials by the end of 2012 and all appeals by 2015, with the exception of Radovan Karadžić whose trial is expected to end in 2014 and recently arrested Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić.

An ad hoc war tribunal, the court was granted legal primacy to trump state sovereignty and demand full and immediate cooperation from all UN member states, particularly targeted states. 

ICTY website: Interactive Map; Records Database; The Residual Mechanism; Bearing Witness; Crimes of Sexual Violence; and ICTY Timeline

Completing the ICTY’s work: the Residual Mechanism The establishment of the Residual Mechanism (the Mechanism) is a step of the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy. It is a new, ad hoc body, established by the UN Security Council resolution 1966 (2010):

• to continue the “jurisdiction, rights and obligations and essential functions” of the ICTY

• to maintain the Tribunal’s legacy.

Radovan Karadžić

Radovan Karadžić is a former Bosnian Serb politician. He is detained in the United Nations Detention Unit of Scheveningen [near The Hague in the Netherlands], accused of war crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during the Siege of Sarajevo, as well as ordering the Srebrenica massacre.

He is sometimes referred to by Western media as the "Butcher of Bosnia," though this title is more often applied to notorious General Ratko Mladić.


1945 Born in Petnjica, Montenegro, into the Serbian Drobnjaci clan.

1960 Moves to Sarajevo to study psychiatry.

1967 Meets Serbian writer and leader of the Serbian national revival movement Dobrica Cosic, who later persuades him to enter politics.

1970 Moves to Denmark to study neurotic disorders and depression at Næstved hospital.

1974 Attends Columbia University in New York, where he continues his medical training in psychiatry.

1975 Returns to Sarajevo to begin his medical career in various hospitals, and works as a psychologist for the FK Sarajevo football team.

1989 Co-founds the Serbian Democratic party in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1992 Becomes the president of a Bosnian Serb-declared independent state, Republika Srpska, within Bosnia and Herzegovina. With the support of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, institutes a ruthless campaign (1992–95) to drive non-Serb Bosnians from the republic.

1996 A warrant for his arrest is issued and he goes into hiding for 13 years, escaping international calls for him to stand trial for war crimes including authority over camps and the siege of Sarajevo during which nearly 10,000 people died or went missing.

2008 Found and arrested in Belgrade, acting as a doctor of alternative medicine, with a heavy white beard and a new alias, Dr Dragan David Dabic. Appears before the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to face the 11 charges against him.

2009 Trial of Radovan Karadzic begins. He fails to show for the first hearing, saying he has not been given enough time to prepare his defence. The trial continues.

Nina Kobalia

Timeline continues:

Ratko Mladić

May 16, 2012 Twenty years after his troops began brutally ethnically cleansing Bosnian towns and villages of non-Serbs, Gen. Ratko Mladić went on trial Wednesday at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal accused of 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Mladić is charged with the massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica, the first act of genocide on European soil since the Nazi Holocaust.

The ailing 70-year-old Mladić’s appearance at the U.N. court war crimes tribunal marked the end of a long wait for justice to survivors of the 1992-95 war that left some 100,000 people dead. The trial is also a landmark for the U.N. court and international justice — Mladić is the last suspect from the Bosnian war to go on trial here.