Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect refuses to enter plea at UN tribunal

3 June 2011

Serbian war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic today appeared before the United Nations tribunal trying those responsible for the worst crimes committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s but did not enter a plea on what he called the “monstrous” charges levelled against him.

It was the first appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for Mr. Mladic, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb forces, who was arrested in Serbia on 26 May, after evading capture for 16 years. He was transferred to the seat of the tribunal at The Hague in the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Mr. Mladic faces numerous charges, including genocide, extermination, murder and inflicting terror on civilians, particularly in connection with the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the Balkan wars.

“The objective was the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina through crimes charged in the indictment,” Judge Alphons Orie stated as he summarized the 37-page indictment against Mr. Mladic.

When asked if he was ready to enter a plea, Mr. Mladic replied that he wanted more time to consider “these obnoxious charges,” adding that he would need more than a month given “these monstrous words” in the indictment.

The judge ordered Mr. Mladic to remain in custody at the UN detention unit until his next scheduled appearance at the tribunal on 4 July.

 

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