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Mladic Too Ill to Attend Court Hearing

Judges may order full report on state of health of former Bosnian Serb commander.
By Rachel Irwin

Former Bosnian army chief Ratko Mladic was too ill to attend a status conference at The Hague tribunal this week, and it went ahead without him.

The court confirmed that the accused waived his right to be present at the hearing, which is convened each month to assess the progress being made in his case, currently still in the pretrial phase.

Due to Mladic’s absence, he was unable to enter a plea to a new charge that was recently added to the indictment, regarding the execution of 30 Bosniak men in the village of Bisina on July 23, 1995. Presiding Judge Alphons Orie said the matter would be dealt with at a later date.

Judge Orie further stated that the bench recently received Mladic’s medical file and is now considering whether to order a full report on his current condition.

The judge said he would not discuss the particulars of Mladic’s health in public, as that information should be used only for the bench “to form its opinion on the impact [his condition] may have on trial proceedings”.

Branko Lukic, Mladic’s lawyer, had nothing to add on the topic during the November 10 hearing.

Court spokesperson Nerma Jelacic said in a statement that Mladic was “making progress but still recovering” from a reported bout with pneumonia, and that doctors who examined him this week determined that he was not well enough to attend the status conference.

The Associated Press reported that a team of five doctors will travel from Belgrade to examine Mladic in The Hague next week.

The next status conference will be held on December 8.

Mladic, 69, was 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 Srebrenica massacre, 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 in relation to various municipalities across Bosnia. He was arrested in Serbia on May 26 after 16 years as a fugitive.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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