Ratko Mladić said to be too ill to face trial

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ratko Mladić in 1993
Image: Evstafiev Mikhail.

Ratko Mladić, a former Bosnian Serb general, is allegedly too ill to face trial for war crimes. According to his lawyer, 69-year-old Mladić will not survive to see the start of proceedings.

Concerns for the health of Mladić come despite a Serbian judge having ruled him fit for extradition to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague only last Friday, a ruling which his lawyer seeks to appeal.

“It was impossible to have a coherent conversation with him or to talk of his defence,” said lawyer Milos Saljic, after meeting with Mladić on Sunday.

According to doctors, he doesn't need hospitalisation.

—Bruno Vekaric, Serbian deputy war crimes prosecutor

Serbian deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric believes Mladić is using his illness in an attempt to delay his extradition.

“He's a man who has not taken care of his health for a while, but not to the point that he cannot stand trial," says Vekaric. "According to doctors, he doesn't need hospitalisation."

Chief prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic echoed these sentiments, stating that Mladić was both well enough to make the two-hour flight to the Netherlands and is conscious of the charges against him, despite claims from family members that the former general is not lucid.

Mladić’s son, Darko Mladić, is calling for his father’s health to be reviewed by independent experts. Mladić has reportedly suffered three strokes, the last in 2008, resulting in the partial paralysis of his right side. His family has expressed concerns he will not receive adequate treatment in The Hague.

Mladić is being indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, notably the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war.