As Trial Begins, Mladic Taunts Survivors

Sarcastically claps, draws finger across throat
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2012 7:26 AM CDT
Bosnian people walking in a street pass a television screen in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on May 16, 2012 during a live TV broadcast as charges are read in court against Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic.   (AP photo/Amel Emric)
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(Newser) – The war crimes trial for Ratko Mladic opened today in the Hague, and the Bosnian Serb general once again made no attempt to appear sympathetic. He gave a thumbs-up and slowly clapped his hands sarcastically as the trial began, waving and smirking at the rows of survivors and relatives of victims in the Hague courtroom. At one point, he even drew a finger across his throat. The Guardian claims the motion was his odd way of calling for a bathroom break, but Reuters calls it a "gesture of defiance" that was made while Mladic stared at a Muslim woman. The judge called for a recess to end the "inappropriate interactions."

Mladic faces 11 charges including genocide and extermination for his role in the Bosnian war, which ended 17 years ago and during which 100,000 people—mostly Muslims and Croatians—died. During opening statements, the prosecution said it would prove that Mladic had a hand in the ethnic extermination plan to rid the former Yugoslavia of non-Serbs, culminating in a massacre of 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica. A video from that incident shows Mladic telling boys as young as 11 to surrender their weapons: "You can survive or you can disappear."

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