News 03 Apr 17

Hague Prosecutors Object to Freeing Mladic for Treatment

Prosecutors at the UN court objected to a request from Bosnian Serb ex-military commander Ratko Mladic for temporary release for medical treatment, arguing his health is stable and he might abscond.

Denis Dzidic
Ratko Mladic in court.

The prosecutors wrote to the judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Monday to contest Mladic’s request for temporary release from detention to go for treatment in Russia because of a “potentially life-threatening condition”, insisting that the claim was unsubstantiated.

Prosecutors Peter McCloskey and Alan Tieger said that Mladic was a fugitive for 16 years and so there was a big risk that he might abscond before the verdict in his trial.

“His long history as a fugitive from justice and the severity of the charges against him demonstrate the risk he would abscond prior to judgement,” McCloskey and Tieger said.

They also said Mladic was receiving adequate care in the UN detention centre.

“The defence claims of the accused’s progressive decline under the care of the medical team that has been caring for him for years is not borne out by the record. Instead, after suffering significant health degradation during his time on the run, the accused arrived at the ICTY gravely ill,” they argued.

“The medical treatment that followed, as he explicitly acknowledged, saved his life,” they added.

Mladic had two strokes before he was captured and extradited to The Hague in 2011.

His lawyers filed a motion to the UN war crimes court last month asking for temporary release so the former Bosnian Serb general could get treatment at a hospital in Russia.

The motion said that 74-year-old Mladic had a “complicated and potentially life-threatening condition” and needed the treatment to “mitigate the effects of six years of detention”.

The lawyers submitted the opinions of three doctors who said that Mladic was not getting the medical care he needed in the Hague Tribunal’s detention unit, and this was causing “serious deterioration of [his] health situation”.

“These new symptoms are signs that raise the alarm about the possibility of a new stroke or heart attack, which could lead to death,” they warned.

They said that Russia was willing to guarantee that Mladic would return to The Hague when asked.

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

The defence and prosecution gave their closing statements in his trial in December last year.

The verdict is due in November.

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