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Judges at the Hague tribunal ruled this week to significantly cut down the indictment against former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.
The indictment will now deal with a total of 106 crimes instead of 196, and the number of Bosnian municipalities involved has been cut from 23 to 15.
The core elements of the case – the siege of Sarajevo, the massacre at Srebrenica, crimes committed in various municipalities, and the taking of United Nations hostages – remains the same, and the indictment will still contain 11 counts.
“The chamber finds that the incidents selected by the prosecution are reasonably representative of the crimes charged in the operative indictment,” judges stated in the December 2 decision.
The bench previously rejected the prosecution’s motion to split the indictment and hold two separate, consecutive trials, the first dealing with Srebrenica and the other dealing with crimes in the municipalities and the siege of Sarajevo. (For more on this, see Bid for Two Mladic Trials Rejected.)
On November 18, the prosecution submitted its suggested cuts to the operative indictment, as requested by judges.
The cuts come amid mounting concerns over Mladic’s state of health. He reportedly suffered from pneumonia in October and was not well enough to attend a status conference held on November 10. The bench subsequently ordered a full medical report on the accused, and the next status conference will be held on December 8.
Mladic was arrested in Serbia on May 26 after 16 years as a fugitive and made his first appearance in The Hague on June 3. At a July 4 hearing, he was thrown out of the courtroom for interrupting judges and refusing to listen to the charges against him.
He was the commander of the Bosnian Serb army from 1992 to 1996, and is alleged to have been responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war. These include the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, which resulted in the murder of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, as well as the shelling and sniping campaign against Sarajevo, which killed about 12,000 civilians.
He is also charged with crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
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