News 09 Nov 17

Mladic Demands Urgent Hearing About His Poor Health

Ratko Mladic’s defence has asked the Hague Tribunal to hold an urgent session to discuss the former Bosnian Serb military chief’s poor state of health ahead of his trial verdict on November 22.

Radosa Milutinovic
Ratko Mladic in court. Photo: ICTY.

Mladic’s defence lawyers have repeated their request for the Hague Tribunal to postpone the pronouncement of the first-instance verdict on November 22 until it has been determined whether the former Bosnian Serb military chief is mentally and physically capable of participating in his trial, and have demanded an urgent hearing.

In their motion to the UN court, which was made public on Thursday, the defence lawyers also asked for Paulus Falke, the doctor at the Hague Tribunal’s Detention Unit, to be charged with contempt of court.  

Mladic’s defence claims that Falke informed the defendant that no doctors from outside would come to visit him.

According to the defence’s interpretation, this “implied that Falke would make sure that Serb doctors would not visit Mladic, because he has adequate care in the Detention Unit”.

“If this is true, such attitude of doctor Falke would compromise the entire process and trigger serious dilemmas on previous medical reports, particularly those relevant for Mladic’s capability to stand trial,” the defence said in its motion.

The defence noted that the Detention Unit manager has previously approved a visit to Mladic by Serbian doctors, and claimed Fakle’s actions “might constitute a deliberate obstruction of the legitimate process and Detention Unit manager’s decision”.

Responding to the Tribunal Secretariat’s insistence that it has proposed “three groups of time slots” for Serbian doctors to visit Mladic, the defence claimed that all the time slots come after the verdict, contrary to its request.

The defence also asked for all these issues be discussed on November 22, the date scheduled for the pronouncement of the verdict in Mladic’s trial, which it said should be postponed.

The Hague Tribunal prosecution last week called on the judges to reject the defence’s first request for a postponement.

It said that the defence lawyers had failed to offer 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.

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 for treatment, 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 in 1995, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which allegedly reached the scale of genocide in several other municipalities in 1992, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

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