News 01 Nov 17

Ratko Mladic Asks for Postponement of Trial Verdict

The former Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic’s defence asked the Hague Tribunal to postpone his verdict, which is due on November 22, until Serbian doctors confirm he is not seriously ill.

Denis Dzidic

Ratko Mladic. Photo: Beta.

Ratko Mladic’s defence lawyers asked the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY on Wednesday to postpone the delivery of the verdict in his trial and suspend proceedings to determine whether Mladic is capable of standing trial because of his poor health.

The lawyers asked for Mladic to be examined next week by a Serbian neurologist and cardiologist, and for the verdict, currently set for November 22, to be postponed until their opinions are given.

“The medical findings show the existence of a serious danger from an illness that might impede Mladic’s capability of participating in the trial and indicate that his participation in the trial further deteriorates his health, even to the point of making him at risk of death,” the defence lawyers’ motion to the ICTY said.

The motion repeated the claim that the Tribunal Secretariat and the UN Detention Unit, where Mladic is being held during the trial, are refusing to cooperate and provide the defence with his complete medical documentation.

The Tribunal Secretariat insisted last month that contrary to the allegations, it had provided the defence with the complete medical documentation on Mladic’s illness and the medical treatment he has undergone at the Tribunal’s Detention Unit and hospitals in The Hague.

Mladic’s lawyers said however that this was not true.

The former Bosnian Serb military chief, now 74, 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 also said they will 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 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.

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