Friday, June 3, 2011

Ratko Mladic in court: 'the whole world knows who I am'

During a 100 minute preliminary hearing, Gen. Mladic shrugged off illness, and evidently clear partial paralysis, by defiantly refusing to enter a plea to 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity that took place in the 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia.

"I am General Mladic and the whole world knows who I am," he declared as he appeared in The Hague for the first time.

"I defended my people and my country, not Ratko Mladic. Now I am defending myself," he said. "I just have to say that I want to live to see that I am a free man."

After being helped into his chair by UN prison guards, the former Bosnian Serb military commander protested that he had been too sick to read the 37 page indictment listing the crimes he alleged to have carried out in the brutal conflict that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia. His lawyers earlier this week claimed he had been treated for cancer two years ago.

Appearing in a the courtroom of The Hague's UN war crimes tribunal courtroom and shielded from angry victims by bulletproof glass, Mladic, 69 spoke with slurred speech and appeared unable to fully use his right arm and hand.
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Initially appearing frail and confused after 16 years on the run, reportedly suffering strokes and cancer since 2006, the Bosnian Serb known as "the butcher" rallied after the reading of the charges against him sparked shouts and sobs from the mothers of some of those killed by troops under his command.

He visibly stiffened and straightened in his seat as Alphons Orie, the Dutch UN judge, read out a charge sheet that included ethnic cleansing across Bosnia, the shelling campaign that terrorised Sarajevo for four years and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

Asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, Mladic replied that he did not want to respond to the "obnoxious charges" and "monstrous words" of his accusers. Judge Orie scheduled a new hearing in the UN tribunal for July 4.

In a different court room, just a few feet away, the trial of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader continued on identical genocide and war crimes charges to Mladic.

The two men, the political architect of Bosnian Serb operations against Muslims and Croats and his pugnacious commander, Mladic, could yet be placed in the dock to together to answer the charge of genocide at Srebrenica.

 Mladic's arraignment, his first public appearance since his arrest last Thurs and after 16 years on the run,read:

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