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After threatening to boycott his UN war crimes tribunal, the former Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, turns up – only to be removed from the courtroom after arguing with the judge.
General Mladic was ordered out after continually interrupting proceedings as the judge read out the charges.
Mladic, who is charged with war crimes during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war , was reprimanded for speaking out of turn before a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
At the start of the hearing, Judge Alphons Ourie repeatedly asked Mladic to stop interacting with the public gallery, where families of Srebrenica victims were seated to Mladic’s right.
“I hear better in my left ear,” Mladic replied, suggesting he was only turning his head to the judge to hear him better.
Judge Ourie then rejected a request by Mladic to change his legal representative to one of his choosing rather than the lawyer appointed by the court because he had not made his request in time.
Mladic has asked for the Belgrade-based military lawyer Milos Saljic and Russian jurist Alexander Mezyaev to represent him. The court is still verifying their qualifications and eligibility.
When Judge Ourie began to read out the charges, Mladic shouted: “No, no, I’m not going to listen to this without my lawyer,” removing his translation headphones.
Read more: Alex Thomson's 1995 encounter with Mladic
“Who are you? You’re not allowing me to breathe,” Mladic continued.
Shortly before guards escorted Mladic from court, he shouted at the judge: “You want to impose my defence. What kind of a court are you?”
After he was removed, the judge moved on to rule that, in the absence of a plea, the court would enter one for Mladic after reading out the charges.
He is accused of war crimes relating to the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica – Europe’s worst massacre since World War Two.
A trial is unlikely to begin until next year at the earliest.