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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019

War crimes suspect Mladic to boycott court hearing

But what happens if he refuses to attend tomorrow’s war crimes tribunal hearing?

Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic appearing in the war crimes tribunal at The Hague on 2 June 2011.
Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic appearing in the war crimes tribunal at The Hague on 2 June 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

FORMER BOSNIAN Serb military chief Ratko Mladic plans to boycott tomorrow’s hearing at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, where he is scheduled to enter pleas to charges including genocide, his Serbian lawyer said.

Mladic is boycotting to demand the power to choose his own defence attorneys, lawyer Milos Saljic said.

“Mladic has decided not to attend the court session to insist on his defence team choice,” Saljic told the Associated Press.

The court in the Hague, Netherlands has asked for more time to vet the list of lawyers Mladic has submitted to verify their qualifications and eligibility. Saljic said that Mladic wants him and a Russian lawyer.

Mladic was extradited to the tribunal from Serbia on 31 May after being captured following 15 years as a fugitive. He is charged with orchestrating atrocities committed by Serb forces throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

Saljic said that if Mladic “is forced” to attend the court session against his will, “he will certainly not enter his pleas.”

According to the court’s rules, if defendants refuse to enter their pleas, they are automatically registered as entering not guilty pleas by the judges. It is unlikely that the court will force Mladic to attend the hearing.

Court spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said the tribunal had not been officially informed of any planned boycott “so preparations for tomorrow are ongoing as planned.”

- AP

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