Finally… Although it looks like they have waited to charge him until he is old and sick….and will probably be let off for health reasons. What about the health of the people he was responsible for massacring? Where they let off for ill health?
The trial of General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army chief accused of orchestrating war crimes and a campaign of genocide, is set to begin at a special UN court at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will make their opening statements against Mladic on Wednesday almost a year after his arrest in Serbia and subsequent deportation after years on the run.
Mladic is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including orchestrating the week-long massacre of over 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian war.
The 70-year-old, who was arrested in a village in northern Serbia last May, is also charged over the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which over 10,000 people died.
Mladic has refused to enter a plea and rejected the charges against him as “monstrous” and “obnoxious” in a preliminary hearing last June. He says he was defending his country and his people as leader of the Bosnian Serb army.
He is the last of the main protagonists involved in the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia to go on trial in front of the special court established by the United Nations to prosecute crimes committed during the conflicts.
Mladic’s lawyers last week attempted to have the trial pushed back as the court pondered their request to have presiding judge Alphons Orie removed from the bench. They had argued that Orie would be biased against Mladic because he had already condemned several of his former subordinates.
But Theodor Meron, the president of the court, denied the request.
“I am not satisfied that Mladic has demonstrated that a reasonable observer… would reasonably apprehend bias. I accordingly find Mladic’s request for Judge Orie’s disqualification to be unmeritorious,” he said in a statement.
Mladic’s lawyers on Monday night filed another request to have the trial adjourned for six months, saying they had not had enough time to prepare.
Mladic is being held in the same prison as his former political leader Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 and is now about halfway through his trial on similar charges to Mladic.
However, there are concerns that Mladic’s trial could be disrupted by the defendant’s poor health. He is believed to have suffered at least one stroke while in hiding and was admitted to hospital for pneumonia last October.