/ 12 July 2012

Bosnia war crimes trial adjourned as Mdladic falls ill

Bosnian Serbs mourn at Sarajevo's "Dobrovoljacka" street
Bosnian Serbs mourn at Sarajevo's "Dobrovoljacka" street

Mladic (70) is accused of genocide over the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and the 1995 killing of 8 000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

He was rushed to hospital on Thursday morning after taking ill in court. He asked the judge for a break and then slumped with his head in his hands early on the fourth day of his war crimes trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague.

Already in poor health when arrested in Serbia last year after 16 years on the run, Mladic has several times said he is too ill to stand trial. He complains that he suffers from the effects of a stroke, has problems with his teeth and has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

Prosecutors and relatives of victims fear he could die without facing justice, as did former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who died in a Dutch prison cell in 2006 while on trial before the ICTY.

Tribunal spokesperson Nerma Jelacic told Reuters: "He [Mladic] complained he was feeling unwell during the hearing, so the hearing was adjourned."

Branko Lukic, Mladic's lawyer, told Reuters the trial was unlikely to continue on Friday.

"He really looked unwell," Lukic said. "It was a huge surprise for all of us because he'd been looking in pretty good shape."

Lukic said later Mladic's condition had improved but he would stay in hospital for further tests on Friday.

"He's better than he was this morning, when he couldn't recognise people around him or move his right arm and leg," Lukic said.

A Reuters witness said Mladic asked for a break shortly after Thursday's session opened. He then put his head in his hands and the judge called for medical staff and adjourned the hearing.

A member of Mladic's defence team had accompanied him to hospital, Lukic said.

Earlier this year, the opening of the trial had to be postponed after it emerged the prosecution had failed to disclose thousands of pages of evidence to the defence. – Reuters