News 17 May 17

Russia Slams ICTY Decision Not To Release Mladic

Moscow said it was ‘confused’ by the Hague Tribunal’s refusal to temporarily release the former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic and allow him to go to Russia for health reasons.

Filip Rudic
Ratko Mladic in court.

Russia’s foreign ministry criticized the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to reject the request for the temporary release of Bosnian Serb ex-military chief Ratko Mladic to seek medical treatment in Russia.

“The refusal to let Mladic, a Serb, have medical treatment is an illustration of the Hague’s justice. The Tribunal used to approve temporary release of convicts for much less serious reasons,” the Russian foreign ministry, according to TASS, said.

Moscow claimed the Tribunal’s decision and its arguments would “only cause confusion”.

The Tribunal refused to release Mladic, who is on trial for war crimes committed during the 1992-5 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, because it deems the treatment he receives in custody adequate.

Mladic suffered two strokes before he was captured and extradited to The Hague in 2011.

Mladic’s lawyers filed a motion to the UN war crimes court in March asking for temporary release so the former Bosnian Serb general could get treatment in Russia.

The motion said that 74-year-old Mladic suffered from a “complicated and potentially life-threatening condition” and needed treatment to “mitigate the effects of six years of detention”.

The lawyers submitted the opinions of three doctors who said Mladic was not getting the medical care he needed in the Hague Tribunal’s detention unit, which was causing “serious deterioration of [his] health situation”.

They said that Russia was willing to guarantee that Mladic would return to The Hague when asked.

Prosecutors Peter McCloskey and Alan Tieger objected, however, noting that Mladic had been a fugitive from justice for 16 years and claiming there was a big risk that he might abscond before the verdict in his trial.

“His long history as a fugitive from justice and the severity of the charges against him demonstrate the risk he would abscond prior to judgement,” McCloskey and Tieger said.

They also said Mladic was receiving adequate care in the UN detention centre.

Mladic was arrested in 2011 in the village of Lazarevo, near Zrenjanin, in northern Serbia after spending 16 years on the run.

He is now on trial in The Hague for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia, which 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 in November.

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