News 05 Feb 18

Mladic Seeks Conviction Annulment Due to ‘Mild Dementia’

Former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic’s defence asked the UN court to annul the verdict sentencing him to life imprisonment for genocide and other crimes because his mental faculties are impaired.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Ratko Mladic in court during his verdict in November 2017. Photo: Beta/Peter Dejong.

Mladic’s defence lawyers on Monday asked the judges at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague quash the verdict handed down in November last year and suspend the proceedings against the former Bosnian Serb Army commander because of his health problems.

Defence lawyers Branko Lukic and Dragan Ivetic cited an expert opinion from a Serbian doctor, Gorica Djokic, who examined Mladic and said that he “could not be considered capable of following the proceedings” during the trial in The Hague and at the moment his verdict was delivered.

Tests showed that Mladic was suffering from “both mild cognitive decline and mild dementia”, according to the doctor.

“Due to these reasons, the defence requests that the verdict be set aside and proceedings suspended until Mladic’s health condition has become stable and until it has been determined that he is capable of participating in the trial,” said the defence’s motion to the UN court.

“The first instance chamber pronounced the verdict when Mladic’s cognitive status was jeopardised and did not allow him to participate in the proceedings. Respecting the defendant’s human rights implies that a verdict may not be pronounced if the defendant is incapable of following the trial,” it added.

The Hague Tribunal sentenced Mladic in November last year to life imprisonment for the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in 1995, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

He was acquitted of further charges of genocide in several other Bosnian municipalities in 1992.

In a separate motion to the court on Monday, Mladic’s defence lawyers asked the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the doctor at the Hague Tribunal’s Detention Unit, Paulus Falke, and other Detention Unit staff members, who they allege are responsible for the inadequate treatment of Mladic’s health problems.

“The actions of these Detention Unit officers has made it impossible to get a clear picture of the defendant’s health condition and contributed to possible mistakes in his treatment,” the motion said.

Mladic’s lawyers had complained about the healthcare provided to their client in the Detention Unit even before the verdict and requested visits by Serbian and Russian doctors to determine whether he was getting adequate treatment in The Hague.

Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic also visited Mladic in custody in The Hague in December and said that Belgrade will probably request his temporary release for medical treatment.

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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

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.

War in Bosnia

Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

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.

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