The claim accompanied the descriptions of Mladic as the organizer of the "murder of 8,000 unarmed men and boys" in Srebrenica, which was of course the "worst massacre in Europe since World War Two," easily inducing the casual observer to instantly dislike Mladic.
The problems with this "trial" are many, from the ICTY lacking legitimacy to try anyone, the fact that it writes its own ex posto facto laws and rules, has standards of evidence that would be laughed out of any legitimate courtroom, to the consideration that the people brought before it have already been lynched in the court of public opinion, and therefore cannot have a fair trial even if the Tribunal itself weren't a travesty.
But the story of the taunting throat-slitting gesture is a prime example of journalistic misconduct when it comes to the Balkans, a case of not just gilding the lily, but of actually reversing the facts of the case.
You see, the throat-slitting gesture was first mentioned in June last year, when it supposedly took place at Mladic's "status conference" hearing. News agencies and papers relying on their feeds reported that the general had taunted his (alleged) victims with a throat-slitting gesture. However, some careful research by an observant reader quickly produced the actual story:
Kada Hotic, who has relatives who were killed at Srebrenica, said Mladic taunted her when she threatened him.So, the gesture did happen. But it wasn't Mladic who made it, but a Muslim observer! She admitted to it, proudly - and the only interpretation of Mladic's finger gesture is hers, too. Now, it is obvious why the AP would mis-report that Mladic had made the motion - it makes the designated villain look properly villainous, and fits the propaganda narrative. But how dare they, when it was so obviously not true? Did they think they wouldn't get caught?
“I told him he will pay the price for murdering my son,” she said, adding that she drew her finger across her throat. Mladic could not hear her, but she said he gestured back, holding his thumb and forefinger close together to indicate she was insignificant. (emphasis added)
Apparently so. Until someone did catch them, and informed blogger Julia Gorin. She then sent letters to the offending agencies and newspapers, pointing out the problem. Finally, on September 30, 2011, the Toronto Star - one of the papers that ran AP's story on July 4, issued the following correction:
"Online News Correction for September 30The Star's correction prompted a chain reaction of retractions by other papers, and the AP itself. Gorin's blog entry provides a complete list and many details of the case.
Published On Fri Sep 30 2011
A July 4 article about the war crimes tribunal of Gen. Ratko Mladic incorrectly stated that Mladic drew his finger across his throat while looking at the public gallery. In fact, a person in the gallery made the threatening gesture to Mladic." (emphasis added)
Of course, the retraction got very little attention, while the lie of Mladic threatening the women in the gallery got spotlight treatment. And now the story has been raised from the dead, reported in the exact same words - again, with no visual evidence to back it up, no indication that it refers to an event from last year, or that it was originally mis-reported in a manner that merited an official retraction!
There you have it, folks: vampire journalism, courtesy of your mainstream media. Ready the garlic and the stakes.