Mladic to Face War Crimes Charges in UN Court

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic will make his first appearance before a war crimes tribunal Friday, following his capture after 16 years on the run.

The United Nations tribunal in The Hague will ask the former general to identify himself and enter a plea to 11 counts of the indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s. Mladic is entitled to postpone the decision on how to plead by a month.

Chief U.N. prosecutor Serge Brammertz hailed Mladic's arrest saying he must be held accountable for using his power to destroy communities and tear the nation apart.

Mladic arrived in The Hague Tuesday from Serbia where he was arrested last week.

Bosnian Ambassador in the Netherlands Miranda Sidran Kamisalic, who visited the detainee, says he seemed in good physical condition and was articulate.

Mladic's lawyer had tried to delay his extradition arguing that he is physically and mentally unable to face the trial, but a Serbian medical team declared him fit.

The Hague tribunal indicted Mladic in 1995 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, in connection with the massacre of 8,000 Muslim males from Srebrenica and the three-year siege of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo.

He is detained at the same facility as his one-time political leader, Radovan Karadzic, whose trial on war crimes charges has already begun. Karadzic was captured in 2008 in Belgrade where he had lived under an assumed name.

Serbian President Boris Tadic has said Belgrade will make every effort to capture the remaining top war crimes fugitive, Croatian Serb Goran Hadzic. He also expressed hope that the European Union will set a date for talks on Serbia's candidacy to join the 27-nation bloc. Mladic's capture was the EU's key condition to consider Serbia's membership.