The Trial Chamber of the Hague Tribunal, has removed Ratko Mladic out of the courtroom for laughing and pointing during the testimony of the protected witness RM-081.
When the witness completed his testimony, the Trial Chamber allowed Mladic, former Bosnian Serb army chief, to return to the courtroom in order to follow the testimony of the former UNPROFOR officer Pyers Tucker.
The witness RM-081 testified on Friday about his detention in a school building in Rogatica, where he said he was imprisoned alongside hundreds of other Bosniaks, in the summer of 1992.
He said that the Bosnian Serb forces held the prisoners in inhumane conditions, beat them up, sexually abused and killed them.
The witness added that his two underage children were among those abused, while he “did not have the courage” to ask his wife whether she had been abused too.
Because of the measures to protect the witness’ identity the cross examination on Monday was closed to public so it is unknown why Mladic laughed.
Following his removal from the courtroom, Mladic requested to be returned to the Detention Unit and that his defence lawyers cease their participation in the hearing.
Mladic’s lawyer, Miodrag Stojanovic, said that he informed Mladic about the measures that the judges might take in such case, but that his client had responded that “he would start a hunger strike and stop taking his medications, in case other defence lawyers are appointed to represent him”.
The defence then stopped cross-examining the witness RM-081, as per Mladic’s instructions.
The presiding judge, Alphons Orie, warned that Mladic’s refusal to appear in the courtroom would be interpreted as renunciation of his right to attend the trial.
Stojanovic conveyed to the Chamber that Mladic had said that he “cannot control his emotions, be it laughter or tears”.
Judge Orie responded that “loud laughter in presence of a witness” constitutes interference with the trial.
Mladic, the former Commander of the Republika Srpska Army, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war during the Bosnian conflict between 1992 and 1995.
British officer Pyers Tucker, former assistant to the UNPROFOR Commander Philippe Morillon, testified that the shelling of Sarajevo from the positions of the Bosnian Serb forces was aimed at “terrorizing and intimidating” the local population.
“Individual grenades were fired on residential quarters without any visible military purpose. To my understanding, the primary goal was to terrorize the population,” Tucker said.
Mladic’s defence is due to cross-examine Tucker on Tuesday, October 9.
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.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
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.