THE HAGUE, Netherlands – It’s been 20 years since Elvedin Pasic’s father was captured by Serb fighters in the Bosnian war. But as the 34-year-old Bosnian Muslim became the first witness at the U.N. trial of Ratko Mladic on Monday, he repeatedly broke down in tears as he recalled the trauma of separation.

During the emotional testimony, the former Bosnian Serb military chief sat stone-faced in court looking straight ahead. He faces 11 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for allegedly masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war that left 100,000 people dead.

He denies wrongdoing and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted at the trial, which is expected to last years.

Speaking English with an American accent, Pasic said he still dreams of a hand waving toward him out of the window of a makeshift prison camp in a school where his father was being held, and regrets not having gone to see him one last time when he had the chance. He was 14 years old at the time.

“I was afraid. I didn’t (go),” he told judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, as he broke into tears. “I wish, I wish I would have went.” He believes his father and others were killed by Serb troops under Mladic’s command a short time later.

Earlier, Pasic described weeks of wanderings with his mother after being forced from their village by Serb shelling. When they returned, they found villagers burned to death in their homes, their own home burned to the ground and their dog shot where it was chained.

“The fridge, the televisions, the walls — what was left of the walls — was stripped,” Pasic said through tears.