A verdict of genocide against the Bosnian Serb commander

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia winds up its work

Mr Mladic was a ruddy-faced soldier’s soldier. He did not lead from behind. His troops loved him. He became, and still is, an icon for many Serbs. He saw himself as a defender of the Serbian nation, having taken up the sword as generations before him had done to fight for his people

.. Mr Mladic believed in revenge. During the second world war his father, a communist partisan, died fighting Croatian fascist forces

.. When his troops took Muslim-held Srebrenica in 1995 he notoriously said: “The time has finally come for revenge against the Turks who live in this area.”

.. In the next few days over 7,000 men and boys were murdered in cold blood.

.. The Hague tribunal found him guilty of genocide for the murders carried out at Srebrenica, but not for those in six other Bosnian municipalities where, although the judgment said that war crimes had taken place, it also ruled that they had fallen short of genocide.

..  The trial will have changed no minds. The tribunal sought to bring reconciliation to the region, but in that it failed. It has amassed a huge archive of testimony about every detail of the Yugoslav wars, an extraordinary resource for future historians. Still, the hope had been that if political and military leaders ended up in court for their deeds in wartime, that would discourage future ones from committing such atrocities. From Syria to the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingyas, this has proved to be a pious dream.

.. But more than revenge, they want better schools, health care and jobs, like everyone else. Today’s leaders have nothing more to do than to get on with the boring task of making life better for the citizens of the seven little successor states of the old Yugoslavia that Mr Mladic and his like destroyed.