In the Hague the trial of the last of the main protagonists in the Balkan wars of the 1990s has opened. Ratko Mladic, the former Serb army commander is accused on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It is alleged he led the slaughter of at least 7,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.
General Mladic has called the accusations “monstrous” and the court has entered a “not guilty” plea on his behalf.
The case has stirred up memories and emotions inside and outside the court. While there were shouts of, “Murderer” and “Killer” from the public gallery the mothers and relatives of the victims of Srebrenica demonstrated in the grounds of the Hague.
“We hope justice will finally catch up with him and that he will be held responsible for what he has done,” said one mother, while another added, “We expect to see the butcher again, to see if he has admitted his crimes, or if there is still blood on him, the same blood he spilled in 1995.”
That was when Serb fighters overran the Srebenica enclave in eastern Bosnia – supposedly under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers. Men and boys were separated off, shot dead and bulldozed into mass graves later to be dug up and reburied in more remote spots.
General Mladic is also charged in connection with the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which more than 10,000 people died.