Wednesday, June 1, 2011

War crimes suspect Mladic to be charged on Friday

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, extradited to the Netherlands from Serbia after 16 years on the run, will be formally charged with genocide at the U.N. war crimes tribunal on Friday.

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia scheduled Mladic's initial court appearance for Friday at 0800 GMT, when he will be charged and asked to enter a plea, according to a statement on the court's website.

Serge Brammertz, prosecutor for the tribunal, said in an interview with Austrian radio ORF on Wednesday that everything possible would be done to avoid a lengthy trial. Several war crimes trials in The Hague have dragged on for years.

Asked how long the whole process could take, he said that depended on several things, including Mladic's health and whether he appointed a legal team or handled his own defense.

"It is very difficult to say how long it will last. The problem will not be the prosecution, we have our updated charge sheet ready, it will be a question of how long the defense needs to prepare their case."

Mladic was indicted by the tribunal 16 years ago over the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica, close to the border with Serbia, during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

He was taken to a detention center outside The Hague from Rotterdam airport on Tuesday evening after being flown from Belgrade on a Serbian government aircraft.

The 69-year-old former general was arrested on Thursday at a farmhouse in northern Serbia belonging to a cousin, triggering protests by Serb nationalists in Serbia and Bosnia.



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