27 May 2011

Ratko Mladic ‘fit to stand trial’ at The Hague

Ratko Mladic is fit to be extradited to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, according to a judge. Mladic’s lawyer says he will appeal the decision on Monday.

Ratko Mladic has been deemed fit to stand trial (Reuters)

Ratko Mladic was arrested on Thursday but a hearing aimed at extraditing him to The Hague was halted because of health concerns.

A judge has now ruled the former Bosnian Serb military leader “is fit for further proceedings”.

“Mladic’s lawyer has been delivered the extradition papers and he has until Monday to appeal,” judge Maja Kovacevic said.

She added Mladic’s lawyer Milos Saljic said he would appeal against the extradition and insisted that Mladic could not be handed over to The Hague until his health was stable.

“He must be provided with adequate treatment before the extradition,” he told reporters.

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Mladic’s son Darko said: “We are almost certain he cannot be extradited in such a condition… He is in very bad shape. His right arm is half-paralysed. His right side is partly numb.”

Mladic, accused of orchestrating the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslims from the town of Srebrenica in July 1995, was found on Thursday in a farmhouse about 60 miles from Belgrade.

The arrest of Mladic, the last of the three men accused of instigating ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, was expected to remove a major obstacle in the former pariah state’s quest to join the European Union.

Arrest was ‘no accident’

Serbia’s Interior Minister told Channel 4 News that Mladic had been living with his brother and did not have a big support network.

Ivica Dacic said: “The cops were tracking him in several locations and they came to a house and knocked on the door of one room and asked who the guy was in the pyjamas. He (Mladic) said: ‘Bravo guys, you’ve found the one you’re looking for’.”

“When he was arrested he had a paralysed right hand and it was obvious he wasn’t getting any help and he was just living with his brother.

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“We had been looking for a big logistical operation that was supporting him but that was not happening in reality.”

Mr Dacic, who served as Slobodan Milosevic’s spokesman in the 1990s, said the arrest was no accident: “After so many months of working with security data and communications networks, that morning in that location there was Ratko Mladic – it’s just the same thing as the Americans finding Osama bin Laden.”

Asked by Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Miller whether the arrest had split the country Mr Dacic said: “Sure there are those who didn’t think we should do this but there are many more who think it’s our obligation that we had to do it.”

He added: “Personally I’m sad he didn’t surrender voluntarily but I’m glad my ministry, together with the security forces, completed the job and apprehended him.”

Ivica Dacic confirmed that Ratko Mladic was living under his own name with an expired Serbian Republic identity card and earlier reports of him operating under a pseudonym were untrue.