N1 in Ratko Mladic’s birth-place: He’s a Serb legend and hero no matter what

NEWS 07.06.2021 20:29
Source: N1

Awaiting the second instance verdict against the former general of the Bosnian Serb Army Ratko Mladic, N1 visited his birth-place, Bozanovici village in the Kalinovik Municipality, in south-east Bosnia where camera-shy residents see him as a hero.

Mladic’s cousin Zoran Mladic told N1 that Mladic’s brothers have died over the past few years. He thinks the verdict against his cousin is unfair.

“If there was justice, he wouldn’t have even been there. He doesn’t belong there. He didn’t commit any crime. And now that they have condemned him and are judging him, it is to their credit. I would tell him from this place, if he could hear me, to hold on tight as he held on so far. To be what he is. He will remain a legend of the Serb people, a hero no matter what,” Mladic’s cousin told N1.

Other camera-shy residents of Bozanovici told N1 about the difficult life they have and existential struggles. There are also Bosniak returnees to Bozanovici. One of them did not want to be on camera but said he came for coffee with his Serb neighbour so that he could shear his sheep. Life, they say, must go on, regardless of the past.

Six kilometres away at the entrance to Kalinovik, a mural of Ratko Mladic welcomes everyone entering this municipality where he is also celebrated as a hero. A little further, in the centre of the municipality is a monument in his honour.

There, N1 found another of Mladic’s cousins, Milan Tosovic. He symbolically wears a T-shirt with Mladic’s face, awaiting the verdict of the Court in the Hague, which he claims is a political court.

“It is a verdict of a political court. It is not a court of justice, it’s a court of lies and deception. I am related to general Mladic. My father and Ratko are cousins. There were crimes against all ethnicities, regardless of whether they were Serbs, Croats or Muslims. And crimes should be condemned. The problem now is that mostly Serbs are being tried, as shown by the verdicts in the Hague,” said Tosovic.

Other residents of this municipality counting only 2,000 according to the 2013 census share the same opinion as Tosovic.

Although 26 years have passed since the end of the war, dealing with the past is stagnating in BiH society.

Relativization, glorification and denial of genocide are a daily occurrence, primarily in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The final verdict in the trial of Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb wartime general, will be pronounced on June 8 in The Hague.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Mladic on November 22, 2017, in a first-instance verdict to life imprisonment.

Mladic was a Bosnian Serb military leader during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and trial judges found he was responsible for overseeing the murder of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Trial judges found Mladic was responsible for ethnic cleansing campaigns against Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and murdering and terrorising civilians in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during a 43-month siege, as part of a plan to forge a “Greater Serbia” out of parts of the former Yugoslavia.