His victims call him the Butcher of Bosnia. His defenders say he was a nationalist trying to defend his people as Yugoslavia collapsed.
Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb general, was convicted of war crimes on Wednesday over the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s — Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.
His trial, which began in 2012, was the last to be handled by the United Nations war crimes tribunal set up in response to the atrocities.
Here are some in-depth articles from The Times’s archive about the man who shaped the image of the Balkans in war and in peace:
A Times correspondent profiled Mr. Mladic in 1994, as the general and Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, became increasingly isolated in their rejection of an international peace plan for Bosnia.
“Mladic’s first name, Ratko, is a diminutive of Ratimir (War or Peace) or Ratislav (War of Slavs). Ratko is a name typically given a male baby in wartime. The general, 51, refuses to be identified in any way with the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, created in April 1992 as an independent and multiethnic state and recognized by the United States and the European Community.”
Forces led by Mr. Mladic kept Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, under a deadly siege for nearly four years. Some troops shelled their own homes in the city. Thousands lived in fear during those years, facing the daily threat of being hit by snipers. More than 10,000 people died on all sides.
That was the promise made by Mr. Mladic on July 12, 1995, as he gently patted a young boy on the head in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. His bodyguards handed out chocolates to children.Continue reading the main story
It was a lie. Over the next 10 days, his soldiers hunted down, captured and summarily executed more than 8,000 men and boys from the town.
In 2011, Times correspondents wrote that mass killings were a trademark of Mr. Mladic and that they ultimately caused his downfall.
After an international accord was reached to make peace in Bosnia in 1995, Mr. Mladic spent much of his time isolated in a mountain bunker surrounded by a coterie of officers. His moods were said to swing from rage to uneasy calm.
After his indictment in 1995, Mr. Mladic evaded arrest for 16 years, despite the presence of thousands of NATO soldiers in the region for much of that time. The Serbian military long shielded him, paid him a salary and continues to pay him a pension. In 1997, for example, he enjoyed an apparently pleasant summer: He spent a week by the turquoise waters of the Montenegro coast, and he was host at his son’s wedding at a well-known Belgrade hotel where United Nations officials were staying.
In 2000, thousands of women from Srebrenica won the right to establish a cemetery to the dead in their hometown — by that time inhabited almost exclusively by Serbs. Almost two decades later, the number of white headstones is still growing. The leader of the Serb Republic, the autonomous entity where Srebrenica lies, has officially denied that any genocide occurred.
Mr. Mladic was found hiding in a village near the Serbia-Romania border, 16 years after his initial indictment by a United Nations tribunal. His arrest removed one obstacle in Serbia’s continued efforts toward European Union membership but raised questions about who had helped him through the years.Continue reading the main story