ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
To talk more about the conviction of Ratko Mladic for war crimes, we're joined now by Nidzara Ahmetasevic. She is a Bosnian journalist from Sarajevo, and she lived through the siege in the 1990s. I should also say we worked together when I reported from Sarajevo a few years ago. Nidzara, it's good to talk to you again.
NIDZARA AHMETASEVIC: Good to talk to you. Thank you very much for having me tonight.
SHAPIRO: I know that some of your family members were killed in the war. What does this verdict mean to you?
AHMETASEVIC: I was in the courtroom when the verdict was pronounced. And I felt very empty, I have to say. It's so much that people from Bosnia and Herzegovina - and when I say people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, I'm talking about everybody, even Serbs - everybody. We lost 30 years of our lives. And we are happy for this, and this is good sentence. This is good verdict. But we don't know what to do now. Like, where these almost 30 years of our lives disappeared?
SHAPIRO: It sounds like you expected this to give you more closure than it did.
AHMETASEVIC: Probably, yes. But I'm not even sure, to be very honest, after all this time, what the closure would mean for me. You know, like, it's - just some of the things are just lost, and there is no way I will ever, ever again have them back. As you said, like, some of my family members - I will never have them back. Some of my best friends, I lost. So I was 17 years old when the war started. I lost quite a lot, you know. I was never girl who have, like, 18 years - like, the normal kind of life of a girl of that age. That's a lot.
SHAPIRO: I remember you telling me that everybody in Sarajevo over a certain age has post-traumatic stress disorder.
AHMETASEVIC: Yes, we probably do. And you could see that, and I could feel that today in the courtroom. I was sitting next - by Mladic family. I was sitting with Darko Mladic, his son. And at one moment when the judge started reading about Sarajevo, I start choking. I had a panic attack.
SHAPIRO: You started to choke?
AHMETASEVIC: Yes. I had a panic attack. They had to take me out. And I think that's post-traumatic stress. I mean, that man didn't tell anything to me. It was just - I just couldn't breathe. It was just the moment that I just lost it.
SHAPIRO: Because you were sitting next to the son of the man who had done this?
AHMETASEVIC: Probably of all that, you know. Like, he was just sitting there full of himself, looked some kind of proud. I'm not sure what for - and careless. I think that that's what was the most powerful part, that he and Mladic - they looked - they don't really care.
SHAPIRO: I know you're at The Hague for this verdict. What are your friends in Sarajevo doing today? Is this a moment of celebration or mourning?
SHAPIRO: What is it?
AHMETASEVIC: No. I mean, maybe we expected we will celebrate. But I spoke with - I mean, that's what I'm doing, like, whole afternoon because it's kind of like - it's moment of when we come together. And I'm happy because of this because many of my friends that I'm speaking today, we try to share love. And I'm getting lots of messages of love. Many of my friends feel the same - empty and kind of like we don't know what now - like, how to feel actually.
And what I'm getting from them - and what many of them even told me openly - is just let's share love. Let's just kind of be close, and let's be here for each other. And I have to say that I'm getting the same messages from my friends in Serbia and from my friends all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I think that's what we need. We kind of need to learn again how to love.
SHAPIRO: That's Nidzara Ahmetasevic, a Bosnian journalist joining us via Skype from the Netherlands, where an international court has convicted Ratko Mladic.
Nidzara, thank you so much.
AHMETASEVIC: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.