Graffiti on the wall of a house shows former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic saluting in Belgrade on May 29, 2011.
Credit: Atiila Kisbenedek

The trial of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity against Bosniaks in 1995, has begun in The Hague, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia accuse Mladic of orchestrating the murder of 8,000 unarmed Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica – an event has been described as Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

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Mladic is also charged in connection with the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people died, Reuters reported.

The 70-year-old Mladic, who is pleading not guilty, faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the BBC reported, adding that he is the “last main protagonist” in the Balkan wars of the 1990s to be tried at the UN court.

Prosecutor Dermot Groome opened the hearing with an audio-visual presentation laying out the accusations against Mladic, telling the court:

"By the time Mladic and his troops murdered thousands in Srebrenica ... they were well-rehearsed in the craft of murder."

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Groome told the court that attacks orchestrated by Mladic were part of a plan to ethnically cleanse non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia.

Nicknamed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” Mladic spent 16 years in hiding before he was arrested by Serb forces last May.

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