'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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect