The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The United Nations Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague has sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity between 1992 and 1995, during the Yugoslavia civil war. In particular, the court found that Mladic was guilty of 'genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995'. Some 8,000 men and boys in the town were massacred when it was over-run by Mladic's forces in 1995. Srebrenica was under the protection of Dutch UN troops at the time. ‘Circumstances were brutal; those who tried to defend their homes were met with ruthless force. Mass executions occurred and some victims succumbed after being beaten. Many of the perpetrators who had captured Bosnian Muslims, showed little or no respect for human life or dignity,’ said presiding judge Alphons Orie. Mladic was removed from the courtroom half way through the verdict after calling for the tribunal’s findings to be either halted or speeded up because of his high blood pressure. When the court refused to agree, he began screaming and was taken to another room where he was able to follow proceedings. Mladic was arrested and brought to the Netherlands in 2011. His trial has taken 530 days spread over more than four years, it heard 591 witnesses and examined nearly 10,000 pieces of evidence concerning 106 crimes. Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra said: 'I welcome the ruling against Ratko Mladic. The war in Yugoslavia and the crimes in Srebrenica have left irreversible scars. I hope this verdict helps the next of kin to deal with their loss and suffering.' Wednesday's verdict helps close one of the most painful chapters in Dutch post war military history, but several other court cases involving the Dutch courts are still ongoing. Srebrenica This June, the Dutch state was found partly liable for the death of over 300 Muslim men who died in the massacre of Srebrenica by appeal court judges in The Hague. The 300 men and boys were inside the Dutch military base in the Muslim enclave when it was over-run by Bosnian Serb forces and now the Dutch state must pay their relatives compensation, the court said. However, the Netherlands was not found to be responsible for the death of 7,000 plus other men and boys who were outside the compound. The court said it would have been impossible for Dutch soldiers to have protected them when the Bosnian Serb forces began to round them up. Dutch soldiers Meanwhile, some 180 more Dutch army veterans have joined the fight for compensation from the state for sending them on ‘an impossible mission’ in Srebrenica. The soldiers were serving in the Dutch battalion Dutchbat III to protect the Muslim enclave. The veterans claim the Dutch government could have known the mission was impossible to execute and say the outside world has blamed them for not being able to prevent the massacre. This has caused them social, emotional and financial damage for which they now seek compensation. Read the complete tribunal ruling (in English)  More >

Former NS chief faces jail for fraud

Police launch dna profile sweep in Zaandam to try to solve 1992 murder Former Dutch railways director Timo Huges should be jailed for one year for his ‘very serious failings’ during the Limburg regional transport tender process, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday. Two other senior railway staff should be jailed for eight and 10 months while three others face community service and fines of up to €50,000 for their role in the scandal. State-owned railway company NS also faces a fine of €3bn for industrial espionage during the competition to provide regional rail services in Limburg in 2014. The Dutch anti-cartel body ACM in June fined NS almost €41m for breaking competition law during the tender process. The contract was originally awarded to Abellio – a subsidiary of the NS. However, in late April 2015 evidence emerged of ‘serious irregularities’ in the contract process. In particular, NS officials are said to have passed on confidential information about Veolia – a competitor for the lucrative €2bn contract – to its Abellio and Qbuzz subsidiaries. The public prosecutor says Huges was not only responsible for the criminal behaviour but was also ‘actively involved’ in committing criminal acts, hence the call for a non-suspended prison term. Qbuzz has since been sold to BusItalia while Abellio now concentrates on railway concessions outside the Netherlands. After the scandal broke, Limburg a awarded the 15-year licence for bus and regional train services to Arriva, a British company now owned by German railway group Deutsche Bahn.  More >

Nursing home assistant arrested for murder

Rotterdam nursing home assistant arrested for allegedly murdering patient A 21-year-old nursing home assistant from Rotterdam is under investigation for murdering one patient and attempting to kill two others, the public prosecution department said on Monday. The male suspect is thought to have killed a female patient at a nursing home in the district of Binnenmaas, south of the port city, the department said. The investigation began earlier this month after a woman at the nursing home became unexpectedly unwell. She was taken to hospital, where medical staff said they suspected she had been given an dose of insulin. Nursing home officials then called in the police. Investigators also found two other suspicious incidents involving the suspect. In one case, at the same nursing home in Binnenmaas, a nursing home resident died. In the other case, in Rotterdam, a female patient also became unwell. The man worked at a number of care institutions in the region, the department said in a statement. The investigation is still ongoing and the man was remanded in custody on Monday.  More >

Henriquez choke hold 'did not cause death'

Police launch dna profile sweep in Zaandam to try to solve 1992 murder Two police officers standing trial for their involvement in the death of Aruban tourist Mitch Henriquez should not be held responsible for his death, the prosecution service said on Monday. Henriquez died in July 2015, a day after being arrested by a team of five officers at the Zuiderpark in The Hague. Police said they responded after he claimed to be carrying a gun. Video footage of the scene showed the 42-year-old being restrained using a choke hold before his motionless body was bundled into a police van. His death triggered several nights of rioting in The Hague's Schilderswijk district, where there has been a history of tension between the police and the large minority ethnic population. Two of the five officers were charged with fatally assaulting Henriquez after an initial pathologist's report concluded that he had died as a result of the choke hold. All five have been internally disciplined by the police but none has been dismissed. But in court on Monday, the prosecution said it had concluded on the basis of other expert witnesses that his death was the caused by acute stress syndrome. Therefore the officers could not be held responsible. Excessive force The officers were guilty of assault but should not face punishment because they had already suffered enough, the prosecution said. The court was told they had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and received threats since the incident. They gave evidence in court from behind screens and their voices were distorted to protect their identity. The prosecution said the officers had used excessive force in restraining Henriquez. One officer, identified in court as DH02, punched the victim as he lay on the ground and rubbed pepper spray in his face, in breach of police guidelines. 'There was no need to use violence to speed up the arrest,' said the prosecution lawyer. 'The officers should be held to account for their choices.' Family walked out Last week most of Henriquez's family walked out of court after it emerged that the prosecution had based its case on low-quality video footage of his arrest. The films were copied from better quality originals which were produced in court by defence lawyer Richard Korver. The internal investigation team which reviewed the case said that the better quality footage had been left out of the case files because of an administrative error. But the family claimed it showed the case was a 'phantom trial' to prevent the truth emerging. Before leaving the courtroom, Korver said the investigation was so riddled with errors that a fair trial was impossible. 'We have no choice other than to indicate in this way to the court, but also to the public prosecution service and the internal investigation unit, that this investigation is simply substandard.' Lip readers Korver said the original footage revealed details that contradicted the prosecution's case. He said Henriquez appeared to turn blue in the film, whereas experts who relied on the inferior material concluded that he was not deprived of oxygen because he had not turned blue. Korver also called two police lip-readers to study the video footage in court. The witnesses said police officers had said to each other 'Seems dead to me' and 'he's stopped responding'. But defence lawyers for the officers claimed that their words were being misinterpreted and that they had said Henriquez was 'dead tired' rather than dead. The family failed in an earlier bid to have all five officers put on trial for causing Henriquez's death and lost a bid to have their names disclosed so they could bring a civil case against them.  More >

Police to issue more suspects' photos

Police launch dna profile sweep in Zaandam to try to solve 1992 murder The public prosecution department is to publish more photos and video of crime suspects in an effort to prevent crimes taking place, as well as catch crooks, chief public prosecutor Diederik Greive says in Monday's Telegraaf. 'We live in a modern world and we know there are cameras all over the place,'he said. 'So you should not complain if you commit a crime and the photos are published.' The current rules on using photos date from 2009 and emphasis the need to make an arrest. However, from December 1, officials will also be able to publish photographs to help an investigation or to prevent another crime from taking place. Photos of people who are on the run will also be published, he said. The department is always careful to take the privacy of suspects into account, Greive said. 'But removing a serious and real danger to the public is usually more important than the privacy of the suspect, convicted criminal or potential perpetrator,' he said. The current system rarely brings complaints, the police chief said. Private security In September, Trouw reported that some 60,000 private security cameras have been added to the police surveillance network over the past year, taking the total nationwide to 160,000. Every day some 60 companies and private individuals make their footage available to the police which, given each firm has an average of three cameras, means 180 new cameras a day, the paper said. The police have been developing a network of privately-owned security cameras for years.  More >