Serbian judges on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Ratko Mladic against his transfer to a United Nations court, paving the way for the former Bosnian Serb army chief to face genocide and war-crimes charges in The Hague.
“The appeal was rejected,” court spokesperson Dusica Ristic said.
Asked when Justice Minister Snezana Malovic would sign the order for his transfer, a justice ministry source told Agence France-Presse: “It is expected within hours.”
Serbian authorities were expected to move quickly to transfer Mladic, though it was unclear when exactly he would be sent to The Hague. Officials have said the exact timing will not be revealed for security reasons.
The alleged mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre and other atrocities during the 1992 to 1995 Bosnia war, Mladic is facing charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Early on Tuesday he paid a visit to the grave of his daughter Ana, who committed suicide aged 23 reportedly because of accusations against her father. Ana, a medical student, shot herself in the family home in 1994 and media reports have suggested she was depressed following reports of her father’s actions during the war. Mladic has always contended that she was killed.
The charges against Mladic include the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8 000 Muslim men and boys — the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II — and the 44-month siege of the city of Sarajevo, during which 10 000 were killed.
A Serbian judge ruled on Friday that Mladic (69) was fit to be transferred to the UN court after hearing a report from doctors who had examined the suspect.
His family says he is in extremely poor health after suffering a series of strokes and his lawyer has said he does not expect him to live long enough to go to trial.
Prosecutors in The Hague have said they are considering applying to the court to join Mladic’s trial to that of his wartime political leader, Radovan Karadzic, who is facing the same charges.
Mladic’s son, Darko, said on Sunday his father insists he “had nothing to do with” the Srebrenica massacre and had in fact saved lives.
Mladic’s arrest after 16 years on the run has been widely welcomed internationally, but has sparked angry protests among those Serbs who consider him a national hero. — AFP