Two days after Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Bosnian Serbs military during the 1990s war, was sentenced to life in prison for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, the Serbian press continues to praise him as a hero. At the same time, they accuse The Hague based International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for anti-Serb bias.
After the verdict was issued on Wednesday, Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said that “we all knew how the sentence would look like”.
Before his political transformation back in 2007, Vucic was also among those who were praising indicted or convicted war criminals. Now he says that “we should look into the future”, but the press close to him still supports “war heroes”.
Tabloids “Kurir” and “Informer” look with their front-pages towards Moscow which allegedly intends to “liberate” Mladic from prison. “Putin to take Mladic from The Hague” – the headline of “Kurir” reads. According to “Informer”, Russia would overthrow the verdict at United Nations Security Council.
Tabloid “Alo!” quotes Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch as saying: “The verdict is the act of Satan!”
“Vecernje novosti” claim that British conspiracy was behind the verdict. It also stresses the position of “Moscow”, namely that ICTY “continues its anti-Serbian course”.
The tabloid “Srpski telegraf” took it even further by publishing a photo of Mladic with the title “Serbian hero”.
Vucic’s role in coping with the recent history remains controversial.
He personally does not praise Mladic any more, at least not openly, but some other convicted war criminals obviously enjoy his support. Veselin Sljivancanin, former Yugoslav army officer convicted by the ICTY for the war crimes in Croatia, can regularly be seen at Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party events.
Vladimir Lazarevic, convicted for war crimes in Kosovo war, has recently been engaged to teach at the military academy./IBNA