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Ratko Mladic genocide trial suspended indefinitely (+video)

Ratko Mladic, a former Bosnian Serb military chief, won an indefinite suspension of his war crimes trial in the Hague because prosecutors failed to disclose documents to the defense. 

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"In a period of only five days, from July 12-16, 1995, the armed forces of [Bosnian Serb leader] Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic expelled the civilian population of Srebrenica and murdered over 7,000 Srebrenica men and boys," prosecutor Peter McCloskey said. Other estimates range up to 8,000 dead.

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Mladic's army "carried out their murderous orders with ... dedication and military efficiency," he added.

Mladic, the 70-year-old former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, showed no emotion on the second day of his genocide trial as McCloskey showed judges a fleeting video of what he said were the bodies of executed Muslim men piled in front of a bullet-riddled wall.

On the first day of the trial Wednesday, the court's public gallery was crowded with victims' relatives who had angrily exchanged hand gestures with Mladic through the bulletproof glass separating them.

On Thursday, most of the survivors had left and videos showing a bullish Mladic strutting through the deserted streets of Srebrenica and berating the commander of Dutch UN peacekeepers were greeted largely with silence and occasional murmurs.

One woman, Hatidza Mehmedovic, wept in the court's lobby during a break in the proceedings.

"I buried both of my sons and my husband. Now I live alone with memories of my children," she said. "I would never wish even Mladic to go through what I go through. Not Mladic or Karadzic. Let God judge them."

McCloskey outlined how, after overrunning Srebrenica, Mladic's forces summoned buses and trucks from across Bosnia to transport women and girls out of the enclave. The men and boys were then driven to remote locations and gunned down by firing squads, their bodies plowed into mass graves.

McCloskey said the remains — sometimes no more than a couple of bones — of 5,977 victims have been exhumed so far. He showed photographs of an exposed mass grave to underscore the point that the victims were not war casualties.

One photo showed a skull, its teeth exposed and its eyes covered by a blindfold. Another showed a pair of hands bound with a strip of cloth behind a body's back.

Mladic fled into hiding after the war and spent 15 years as a fugitive before international pressure on Serbia led to his arrest last year.

Delays are not unusual in complex international trials that often take years to complete, but are a major concern in trials with elderly defendants who, like Mladic, have a history of health problems.

The trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic dragged on for four years due to delays mainly related to his poor health. He then died of a heart attack in 2006 before judges could deliver their verdict on charges that he masterminded conflicts across the Balkans throughout the 1990s.

The recently finished trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor also was delayed by months after he fired his defense team on the trial's opening day.

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