For Radko Mladic, genocide trial becomes a joke

After nearly 16 years on the run, Radko Mladic is finally facing justice.

The former Bosnian Serb commander went before a UN war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands today.

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports that the man accused of the worst atrocities in Europe since the Nazis made a spectacle of himself.

The judges had barely arrived when Radko Mladic showed that he still prefers to give, not take orders. Told not to play to the gallery, he taunted the families of victims of the Bosnian war by dramatically doffing his cap at them.

Angry Mladic booted from Hague arraignment
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The court soon tired of his theatrics, and his cap, eventually taking it from him.

When the charges were read out, the drama turned from bad humored to ugly, as Mladic stands accused of genocide.

Specifically, Mladic is accused of ordering the massacre 8,000 men and boys in the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica after they were separated from the women and assured of their safety. He is also accused of the deliberate shelling of civilians during the forty-three month siege of Sarejevo, among other crimes.

Mladic refused to listen, even once taking off his headset and interrupting the court. He had threatened not to show up at all. Instead, his tactic was to disrupt.

The judge, like an exasperated baseball umpire, threw Mladic out.

The court entered a not guilty plea. With or without Radko Mladic, the judges are determined that this trial will continue.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.