NEWS 24 May 17

Mladic Lawyers Mull Street Protests Seeking his Release

Ratko Mladic’s lawyer said they may urge people in Serbia to take to the streets and protest in support of their demand for the temporary release of the Bosnian Serb leader.

Filip Rudic
Mladic's defenders at the press conference in Belgrade. Photo: Medija centar

The defence for Ratko Mladic said it may call on people in Serbia to protest in support of its demands for the former Bosnian Serb Army leader to be allowed temporary release for medical treatment in Russia.

Mladic’s lawyer, Branko Lukic, said on Wednesday: “We have filed an appeal and organising protests is the only next step, as we have no other recourse. We must maintain a lawful approach towards the [Hague war crimes] tribunal, but if necessary, we hope we can draw people into the streets.”

Lukic said the protests would show that Mladic has popular support. He did not specify whether they will wait for the court to decide on their appeal before calling on people to take to the streets.

Lukic also said the defence was trying to affect the court’s decision through “diplomatic channels”, but refused to explain further.

The lawyer claimed that his client’s life was in danger “every day” while he is being treated in custody at the Hague.

Lukic said that as the trial process against Mladic had finished, there were no procedural reasons why he should not be released to Russia on a guarantee of return signed by President Vladimir Putin.

“The Tribunal accepted a guarantee from UNMIK when it released [Kosovo Albanian politician] Ramush Haradinaj, who was not even sick,” he concluded.

In their submission to The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, Mladic's defence filed a request for his release “under any conditions that the Appeals Chamber considers necessary.”

The former commander of Bosnian Serb Army was indicted for genocide in the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, for the persecution of Muslims and Croats reaching the scale of genocide in six municipalities, for terrorising the population of Sarajevo with long-term shelling and sniper attacks and for taking members of the UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, hostage.

His trial began in 2012 and he has been in custody since May 2011. The verdict is expected later this year.

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