A Windsor resident who said he lost 70 family members to the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, is relieved to hear the former military chief responsible for the acts, has been convicted. 

"I can tell you honestly that's a big relief to everybody. I was expecting something because I believe in justice," said Alija Hodzic, who arrived in Windsor from Bosnia in 2000 with his family.

Hodzic was up all night waiting to hear Ratko Mladic's fate.

The UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal convicted the Bosnian Serbian military chief general on Wednesday of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to life in prison for atrocities during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Now the President of the Bosnian Club of Windsor, Hodzic is happy with the sentencing.

"When they said he got a life sentence I said 'Yes, that's what he did. That's what he deserves,'" he said. 

Hodzic was part of a group of Bosnians responsible for erecting a memorial in Windsor's Jackson Park for the victims of the genocide. He said Canadians should not blame all Serbians for what happened in the war.

"There were lots of good people too," said Hodzic, who served as a nurse for four years during the war. "I saw lots of things, mostly civilians. It's hard to talk about.

His wife lost her brother, and Hodzic said he lost two uncles and seven first cousins during the war, and dozens of other family members. 

Alija Hodzic

Alija Hodzic and his son Velid look at a picture of their then 19-year-old relative who was killed trying to escape the war. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"That pretty much happened to everyone in Bosnia," he said. "Bombing, grenades, pieces of bodies and kids … it was a really, really bad time."

Although the war took a lot from his family, Hodzic said the conviction was a good message sent to the world. 

"I'm really amazed with Canadians and how much they know about this and how much they support the people who survived."