Defiant Mladic sets stage for contentious war crimes trial
Former Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic refused to enter a plea on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity today in The Hague, and was given until July 4 to appoint a legal team.
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Mladic said he was not appearing as “Ratko Mladic” but as a defender of the Serbian people, and said he would rather “be killed by a policemen here or in the United States… . I defended my country, and I have not killed anyone in Libya” or anywhere else.Skip to next paragraph
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The Bosnian-born Mladic, sometimes called “The Butcher of Bosnia,” is charged with the three-year siege of Sarajevo, for command responsibility during the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim men and boys, for the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure and places of worship, the extermination of non-Serbs in 23 municipalities, and for taking UN peacekeepers hostage following airstrikes by NATO jets in the spring of 1995.
Mladic appeared in court wearing a white fishing hat that he removed upon sitting down. He did not argue with the judge as did Milosevic, or offer the pyrotechnic remonstrations of Karadzic two years ago, but rather appeared polite and conducted his exchanges in civil tones.
However, Mladic said he had read none of the charges against him, or any of the material the tribunal offered him, and said he would need more than 30 days to do so. Orie said that Mladic’s defense would not have to be complete in that time period, but the court would not extend the 30-day figure for initial work. Mladic appeared with a tribunal-appointed lawyer from Serbia that he said he did not know.
While Mladic described himself as “gravely ill,” he showed none of the lack of comprehension or ability to concentrate attributed to him by his lawyer in Serbia last week, in a failed effort to block his extradition. Later in the trial, he said he was “irritated” at tribunal staff for trying to assist him in walking and said he wanted to move about freely.
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