'Fit for trial' prisoner faces quick extradition to The Hague

Ratko Mladic yesterday failed to persuade a Serbian court that he was too ill to face a trial, meaning he could be extradited to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague within days.

A Belgrade court ruled that the Bosnian-Serb military leader was capable of following a trial where he faces charges that include orchestrating some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

His son Darko claimed that the 69-year-old had two strokes while he was on the run for 16 years until his capture early Thursday at the small village of Lazarevo in northern Serbia. He claimed that Mladic had a partially paralysed right hand and could hardly speak.

Mladic was transferred to Belgrade on Thursday. An official revealed yesterday that he had asked for Leo Tolstoy novels and a television set to be brought to his cell at the court while he awaited the appeal. He had also asked to visit the Belgrade grave of his daughter Ana, who killed herself in 1994, the official said.

The first photo since his arrest was revealed yesterday, showing him in a baseball cap looking shrunken, without the jowly features he had during his time as a feared leader. The war left more than 100,000 dead and another 1.8 million were driven from their homes to try to purge the region of non-Serbs.

Darko Mladic said that his father would deny charges against him, which include directing the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica and involvement in the relentless four-year siege of Sarajevo. "His stand is that he's not guilty of what he's being accused of," he told reporters outside the court.

Mladic, who, according to the indictment, ordered his soldiers to "make them lose their minds" during the bombardment of Sarajevo, jumped from subject to subject and spoke inconsistently during yesterday's hearing, according to his lawyer, Milos Saljic.

Mr Saljic said that Mladic needed medical care, "should not be moved in such a state" and would appeal against the extradition decision on Monday. Sources within the war-crimes court said that the final ruling would be made soon, which meant he could be at the detention unit at Scheveningen on the same day.

Within days of his extradition, he would then appear before a panel of judges where he would be asked to enter a plea – though his legal team said yesterday that he did not recognise the authority of a tribunal prosecuting crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.

The hunt for suspects is now closer to an end. Goran Hadzic, a former Serbian leader in Croatia who is still at large, is the last of 161 people sought by the tribunal.

Sources at The Hague said any trial could start quickly because the indictment against Mladic has been public for 16 years. It contains a total of 15 counts dealing with genocide, crimes against humanity, forcible transfers of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs and violation of laws of war in Bosnia from April 1992 to July 1995. Judge Fouad Riad, of the UN tribunal, said that there was evidence against Mladic of "unimaginable savagery."

Charges against Mladic include directing the mass killing of "close to 8,000 Bosnian-Muslim men and boys" over several days after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Buried in the makeshift graves, many victims still remain unidentified and mass graves around Srebrenica continue to be discovered. So far, some 5,000 remains have been dug up, identified and buried properly at a memorial centre in Potocari, near Srebrenica.

The attempt to hold a trial speedily follows the failure to prosecute the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died of a heart attack in 2006, five years after his extradition from Serbia and four years into his trial.

The political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, remains in custody in three years after his arrest in Belgrade.

The life that awaits him

Ratko Mladic will be encouraged to "maintain as normal a life as possible" at the Detention Unit where he will be held if, as expected, he is extradited to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Located within a prison complex in The Hague, the purpose-built ICTY Detention Unit's 15 metre-square cells have housed more than 138 war crime suspects since 1995, including former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Inmates are innocent until proven guilty and as such, are allowed access to press coverage, the use of a computer, and daily opportunities to meet with lawyers, family and friends. With table football, communal English language classes and a gym, there is also plenty to keep detainees busy between court appearances.

Enjoli Liston

The Warlord's Family

Stern-faced and showing only the briefest glimpses of emotion, the wife of Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic arrived at a Belgrade court yesterday to see the husband she once tried to have declared dead in the dock accused of war crimes.

Bosiljka and Ratko Mladic's son, Darko, made an impassioned plea for the father he had not seen for many years.

"We are almost certain he cannot be extradited in such condition," said Darko, just before a court ruled otherwise.

For years they had played the dutiful army family, following Mladic all over the former federation of Yugoslavia, but they were a family marked by tragedy.

The couple had a daughter, Ana, who committed suicide in 1994. The medical student's death is said to have deeply affected Mladic. She shot herself with a treasured pistol he won at military school, and the war lord was often seen at her graveside in Belgrade.

Bosiljka Mladic has largely hidden from view since her husband became one of the world's most wanted men. Last year, she tried to have her husband declared officially dead, claiming the family wanted to be left alone as they hadn't seen Mladic for years.

But there were signs that secrets may be lurking. In April this year, Bosiljka appeared before a Belgrade court after being indicted for illegal possession of fire arms, found during the searches of her home. She admitted the arms belonged to her husband, but said she didn't know they existed until the police uncovered them.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game