Friday, June 3, 2011

Ratko Mladic judge "odious" the charges against him

The former military leader of Bosnian Serbs, Ratko Mladic, accused in particular the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, refused on Friday 3 June, to plead guilty or not guilty of the charges against him, charges he has described as "odious" before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The accused, who said he had not read the entirety of its record of conviction, shall have thirty days to make a decision. The ICTY has set the next hearing of his trial to July 4. Wearing a gray suit, a shirt and sporting a gray tie, Mr. Mladic appeared sitting, visibly thin and aged, in contrast to the stocky and massive, in combat fatigues, he was in the 1990s.

"I am General Ratko Mladic," he answered the judge asked him his identity. Ratko Mladic was arrested in Serbia on May 26 after sixteen years on the run. A lawyer Serbian Aleksandar Aleksic, was appointed to defend him during his initial appearance. "I am an extremely patient man, I need a little more time to think about everything she just said," said the accused after the reading of his rights by the clerk at the 'initial appearance.

"I was exposed to considerable stress, little did I understand everything that this young woman has just read," he said. "In the infirmary of the detention unit, I made three folders but I have not read all that, I did not sign anything either, I was in a bad state." "I defended my people and my country, not Ratko Mladic," said the accused at the end of the hearing.

"I did not kill Croats as Croats, I only defended my country," he said. The judge asked him if he still had to make a statement before the end of the hearing, Mr. Mladic, 69, said: "I do not want to take me under his arms as if I a blind, I can walk alone. " "I do not want to be led by others, the whole world knows who I am: I am General Mladic," he firmly told.

Whoever was the most wanted man in Europe is also pursued for his role in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, the worst in Europe since the Second World War, during which eight thousand Muslims were killed. The trial of Mr. Mladic should not begin for several months, reportedly to give the defense time to review the evidence gathered by the prosecution.

At that hearing, chaired by the Dutch judge Alphons Orie, Ratko Mladic was notified of the eleven charges against him, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to counsel for the accused in Serbia, Milos Saljic Ratko Mladic has been treated for cancer. Mr. Saljic said he "received medical records showing that Mladic had surgery and underwent chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009." Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

The Serbian press has published a copy of a medical document showing that Mr. Mladic was treated at a hospital unidentified Serb between April and July 2009. Mr. Saljic presented this piece justice as Serbian "evidence [was] not fit to be extradited and judged." The Serbian Minister of Justice saw a lawyer's ploy to prevent extradition.

Bruno Vekaric, a member of the Serbian prosecutor in charge of war crimes, said that Ratko Mladic has been examined and the doctors concluded he had suffered several heart attacks in the past and that he suffered from hypertension. A spokesman for the ICTY has refused to comment, noting that the court was not talking about the health of the accused.

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