News 05 Jun 13

Ratko Mladic: ‘Hague Tribunal Saved My Life’

Former Bosnian Serb commander Mladic, who is on trial for war crimes, thanked the Hague Tribunal and its doctors for “pulling me out of the grave” after he suffered three strokes.

Justice Report
The Hague

Mladic thanked the Tribunal after its detention unit’s doctor, Paulus Falke. testified about the war crimes indictee’s health condition at the international court on Tuesday.

“Doctor Falke - you, your team, the entire staff in the detention unit that monitors me, guards, watches, examines and inspects me night and day, all the medical staff in the detention unit that have been treating me and the medical staff at the Bronovo Hospital [where Mladic was treated in The Hague], I would like to bow down before you and hail all of you as the people who pulled me out of the grave by both my legs,” Mladic said.

“Had it not been for your care, medication and God’s will, I would have visited Saint Peter a long time ago,” he said.

Mladic said that he had to commend the Tribunal as well, although he had said unpleasant things about it.

“Had I not come here, I would have been in heaven a long time ago. So I sincerely thank everyone, from the cleaning lady to the owner and the Bronovo Hospital staff for having saved my life. Thank you,” he said.

Speaking in favour of a defence proposal to reduce the Mladic trial’s working week from five to four days, Falke presented a detailed description of the defendant’s health condition. 

He said that Mladic’s health was stable and not deteriorating despite his three strokes, and contrary to the defence’s medical experts, he said there was no increased risk of another stroke.

But he also noted: “Medical staff at the detention unit have noticed that Mladic gets extremely tired during hearings. When he returns from a hearing, he is too tired to undress himself, so he just lies in his bed and ignores dinner.”

According to a psychiatrist’s findings, the testimonies heard during the trial have been “very painful and upsetting” for Mladic, which might have affected his appetite, Falke said.

“Doctor, as a human being, I am not surprised by even the most heinous truths and facts, but even the slightest lie, irrespective of who wrote, imputed or uttered it, makes me short-tempered,” Mladic responded.

The trial chamber will make a decision on whether to shorten the working week in Mladic’s case at a later stage.

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