Mladic removed from UN court as witness recounts massacre

11th April 2013, Comments 0 comments

Wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic was removed from a UN war crimes court Wednesday after challenging the testimony of a witness on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Mladic, who is on trial at the court in The Hague on various charges, including genocide, over the 1992-95 Bosnian war, began muttering as a witness started to testimony about Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

There were conflicting reports as to what Mladic actually said, with the witness saying he heard him utter the word "lies" as well as "fuck your mothers" as he left the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) courtroom.

Mladic's lawyer however said the Bosnian Serb ex-general had accused the witness of regurgitating testimony "learnt by heart".

"There is no need to explain that these types of comments are inappropriate," a clearly annoyed judge Alphons Orie said as he ordered Mladic out of the courtroom.

Prosecutors on Wednesday moved their focus in the case against Mladic to the July 1995 slaughter of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

The enclave in eastern Bosnia was supposed to be under the protection of Dutch UN peacekeepers when it was overrun by the Bosnian Serb army under Mladic's command.

Children and women were then rounded up and forced onto buses while men and boys were murdered and their bodies dumped into mass graves in the worst bloodshed on European soil since World War II.

The witness, who continued with his testimony after Mladic was removed from the courtroom, told the court how the Bosnian Serb forces killed Muslims by firing squad.

He said he survived the massacre by playing dead.

Dubbed the "Butcher of Bosnia", the 71-year-old Mladic faces 11 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity before the ICTY for his role in Bosnia's 1992-95 war which killed 100,000 people and displaced more than two million others.

Last year, Judge Orie ordered courtroom surveillance for Mladic because of "disruptive behaviour."

On the opening day of the trial last May, a widow of the Srebrenica massacre alleged Mladic made a "throat-slitting" gesture at her.


© 2013 AFP

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