Court gives Mladic lawyers week to decide on split trial

25th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Lawyers defending former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic will have until next week to tell the Yugoslav war crimes court whether they agreed to have his trial split into two.

"The defence has until August 31," International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Judge Alphons Orie told lawyers at an appearance of the man known as the "Butcher of Bosnia", to give their response to a request by the prosecution.

UN war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz's office last week filed a motion before the Hague-based ICTY asking judges to divide the original indictment for the 69-year-old former general into two separate trials.

The first trial would deal with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre alone.

Mladic is charged with genocide for his alleged role in the murder of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys over a six-day period at Srebrenica in July 1995, in Europe's bloodiest episode since World War II.

After the first trial is concluded, the next trial would then deal with all the other crimes on the Mladic indictment, namely those committed during the siege of Sarajevo and in other Bosnian towns, as well as the taking hostage of UN personnel.

Dressed in a grey suit, cream shirt and black-and-yellow tie, Mladic did not speak in open court, apart from telling the judge he was "putting on his glasses." He occasional wiped his mouth with a white hankerchief during the session.

Later, during a session closed to the public, he spoke to the court about his health.

Mladic was arrested in northeastern Serbia on May 26 after 16 years on the run. He was transferred to the UN's detention unit a few days later and made his first appearance before the court on June 3, where he told judges the charges against were "obnoxious."

He is currently facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the bloody 1992-95 Bosnian war.

© 2011 AFP

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