WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), released the following statement Wednesday welcoming the conviction of Ratko Mladic on genocide, crimes against humanity, and other war-related crimes committed by Serb forces under his command during the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s:
“I welcome today’s verdict against Ratko Mladic for his heinous crimes against humanity. As a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, I recall with horror the many reports of atrocities associated with the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere. We helped to document them in numerous hearings, and we caught glimpses of them ourselves during visits to Sarajevo under siege.
“It is rewarding to see the efforts of the international community succeed in providing justice, as many questioned and even opposed efforts to prosecute those responsible or to press Serbia and other countries in the region to cooperate with the international tribunal. Any satisfaction I feel, however, is tempered by the knowledge that too many people in the Balkans continue to consider Mladic and his murderous associates to be heroes, and that some leaders today – in places like Syria and elsewhere – commit similarly gruesome atrocities with a sense of impunity.
“We have yet to achieve a world where ‘Never Again’ means just that, but we can only hope that verdicts like the one handed down today will make those who lead authoritarian or totalitarian regimes think twice about engaging in aggression against neighbors, ethnic cleansing, and other atrocities.”