The Trial of Ratko Mladic

Ratko Mladic
Picture Shows: General Ratko Mladic during his trial, 2017. Image Credit: BBC/ICTY.

This Storyville documentary is certainly a harrowing watching, detailing the worst war crimes in Europe since the Second World War.

Filmed over a period of five years, we follow the trial of the Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who was on trial in The Hague for genocide and crimes against humanity, which included the responsibility for the killing of 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

It is a particularly interesting watch, as the programme talks to both sides of the trial. While much of the focus is on the prosecution attempting to provide that Mladic was responsible for these deaths, we also follow the defence who try to prove that Mladic had no connection with the killings.

As a result of this, we get a wide mixture of views and witnesses, ranging from people whose family members were killed in Srebrenica, expert witnesses investigating bodies found in mass graves, to Serbs loyal to Mladic and even members of Mladic’s family. The programme thus attempts to give an unbiased view, as if we are also witnesses to the trial at the time, trying to give voice to all the arguments.

This is especially challenging given the subject matter of this documentary. We see the remains of people killed so at times this programme is pretty stomach-churning. Also, there is no narrator to this documentary: we hear directly from the lawyers, prosecutors and witnesses, which makes the entire thing more impactful. The closest to a narrator is on-screen captions.

It is a powerful watch, dealing with tragic events in recent history. It is a sobering spectacle that makes for compelling viewing.

The Trial of Ratko Mladic is on BBC iPlayer.