News 11 Oct 17

Mladic’s Lawyers Demand Medical Files, Claiming Negligence

Former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic’s lawyers demanded a full dossier on his medical treatment in detention in The Hague, alleging that “negligence” was putting his life at risk.

Denis Dzidic
Ratko Mladic in court.

Ratko Mladic’s defence submitted an urgent request to the UN war crimes court in The Hague on Wednesday, seeking a comprehensive medical dossier on the former Bosnian Serb military commander’s medical treatment and threatening action for contempt of court if the demand is not fulfilled.

“It has become clear that medical staff of the [UN] Detention Unit is either unprepared or incapable of offering health care needed for protecting and maintaining the lives of detainees such as Mladic. An urgent reaction is required,” said the defence motion to the court.

The motion accused the Hague medical staff of “negligence”.

Mladic has had several serious health problems while in detention and suffered two strokes and one heart attack.

In June 2013, he thanked the Tribunal and its medical staff for “saving his life” and “bringing him back from grave”.

But his lawyers say that his condition further deteriorated in May this year. They insist that he needs to undergo hospital treatment due to the risk of a new stroke or heart attack.

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.

His lawyers have said they will soon ask the court to grant Mladic temporary release for treatment in Serbia, after Belgrade said it would offer guarantees that the former Bosnian Serb Army chief would return to his trial.

Mladic’s lawyers Branko Lukic and Dragan Ivetic also alleged in their motion that the Hague Tribunal’s secretariat and the UN Detention Unit “refuse to cooperate with the defence”.

They alleged that the Tribunal’s registrar’s office “falsely” said that the defence requested all the medical findings for the first time in late August.

The defence lawyers insisted they made the request back in January this year.

The Tribunal’s Secretariat announced last week that, contrary to the defence’s allegations, it had provided the complete medical records on Mladic’s illness and his treatment at the court’s detention unit and hospitals in The Hague.

But Mladic’s lawyers insisted this was not true.

“The defence did not receive any health documents from June to October this year, although it was entitled to get them,” Lukic and Ivetic said in their motion.

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.

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

The verdict is due next month.

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