News 02 Nov 17

Hague Prosecution Opposes Mladic Verdict Postponement

The Hague Tribunal prosecution called on the judges to reject a request from former Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic’s defence to postpone the verdict in his trial because of his poor health.

Haris Rovcanin
BIRN
Sarajevo
Ratko Mladic in court. Photo: ICTY.

The prosecution on Thursday asked the Hague Tribunal judges to reject the postponement of Mladic’s first-instance verdict, which is currently scheduled for November 22, arguing that the defence request is unfounded.

The prosecutors said that the defence “has failed to offer a justification of its request and allegations supporting that request”.

They said that the defence lawyers had failed to offer a list of evidence to support their claim that “the health status of Mladic’s brain has been significantly deteriorated in the opinion of medical professionals”, and that the general might be “incapable of participating” in the trial because of his illness.

They pointed out that doctors at the UN tribunal’s detention unit, where Mladic is being held, and independent specialists have closely monitored his health during the course of his trial.

“Their reports reflected the findings that the defendant was capable of participating in the trial and hearing the verdict on the accusations against him,” the prosecutors said.

They also said that the latest report from the medical specialists on September 22 confirmed that “the defendant’s health condition is stable”.

The prosecutors further noted that, in a recent decision, the Hague Tribunal’s trial chamber said that Mladic “has no acute medical problems” which have not been addressed by medical treatment.

Mladic’s defence on Wednesday asked the UN court to postpone first-instance verdict until it had been determined whether Mladic was mentally and physically capable of further participating in the trial.

His lawyers also said that, despite repeated requests, they have still not received Mladic’s complete medical dossier from the court secretariat yet.

“As indicated in the limited medical records and images, which have been provided to us, medical professionals are of the opinion that the condition of the defendant’s brain has been significantly deteriorated, including at least one stroke that occurred during his detention,” the defence said in ts motion to the court.

The defence also said that its radiologist, who reviewed the images submitted by the tribunal, noticed “a significant deterioration of Mladic’s cerebral tissue since the beginning of the trial” and alleged that “the truth has been potentially wrongly presented” in written records made by court doctors.

Prior to his arrest in late May 2011, Mladic - who is now 74 - had suffered three strokes.

The defence requested in March that Mladic be granted temporary release and allowed to go to Russia, claiming that the treatment of his illness in The Hague had been inadequate.

The court’s trial chamber rejected the request, saying that Mladic had received proper treatment in The Hague.

The main reason for turning down the request lay in the judges’ belief that it was not clear that Mladic would return to The Hague because he had been on the run for 16 years prior to being arrested.

Mladic is on trial for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia, which allegedly reached the scale of genocide in several other municipalities, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

War in Bosnia

Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

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