THE YUGOSLAV WAR crimes tribunal at The Hague has announced a two-day delay in the opening of the trial of former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.
The trial was due to start on 14 May, but that date clashes with the appeal hearing of two Croatians convicted last year of crimes against humanity.
Mladic is accused of participating, by his acts and ommissions, in genocide and persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, according to the International Criminal Court indictment. He is also accused of violating the rules of war under the Geneva Conventions over the murder of “Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats or other non-Serbs” and for cruel treatment and inhumane acts.
He was captured in Serbia after 15 years in hiding and subsequently extradited to the tribunal. He fled when incited by the tribunal for war crimes relating to the killing of around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
Lawyers for Mladic have criticised prosecutors for the time taken to disclose evidence to the defence team, and his family has said he is too ill to stand trial. In October, he was treated for pneumonia in hospital.
The court entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf at a hearing n July 2011 when he refused to cooperate with the court and repeatedly interrupted the presiding judge.
Mladic faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.
His former political chief Radovan Karadzic is being tried on similar charges at the tribunal.
- Additional reporting by the AP