The former Bosnian Serb army commander, Ratko Mladic, went on trial on Wednesday accused of carrying out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing and Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
“Ratko Mladic assumed the mantle of the criminal goal of ethnically cleansing Bosnia,” prosecutor Dermot Groome told judges as the trial opened at the Yugoslav war crimes court in The Hague.
Mr. Mladic (70) has been indicted on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Balkan country's brutal 1992-95 war that killed 100,000 people and left 2.2 million homeless.
Mr. Mladic sarcastically applauded judges as they entered the courtroom. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an earlier court hearing last June.
Outside the court, a group of 25 women belonging to the “Mothers of Srebrenica” organisation representing widows and victims of the Srebrenica massacre, held a demonstration.
“This is the biggest butcher of the Balkans and the world,” Munira Subasic (65) told AFP. She lost 22 relatives to Bosnian Serb military forces when the enclave of Srebrenica was overrun in July 1995.
Prosecutors also hold him responsible for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left an estimated 10,000 people dead.