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Hague Tribunal does not let lawyers visit Mladic for six months

Darko Mladic and lawyers keep demanding that independent medics should be allowed to see the general

BELGRADE, September 8. /TASS/. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals has for the past six months denied permission to lawyers to visit the jailed former Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic, the general’s son Darko Mladic told TASS in a commentary.

"The problem is the IRMCT does not let him hold consultations with his lawyers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although he has had no chance to get ready for hearings with his lawyers, the appellate hearings did take place. The family has not visited him since February and the lawyers, since March. The coronavirus pandemic was used to restrict the lawyers’ access. We suggested that the lawyers might put protective suits on, like the medics who treat coronavirus patients, but the idea was turned down. A group of independent medics was not allowed to see him on the same excuse," Mladic Jr. said.

"On the other hand, the hairdresser is allowed to visit him. Also, he is in contact with technical personnel, who help him with the computer. This is absolutely inexplainable to us, why a hairdresser can be let in, while a group of doctors is kept away, contrary to the tribunal’s own rules," the general’s son said.

Poor medical treatment

Ratko Mladic remains in poor condition and his son believes that inadequate medical assistance is largely to blame.

"Regrettably, the general’s health has not improved, although he does not run a temperature any more. Before the appellate hearings he ran a temperature. We were hearing meaningless explanations it was a result of a heatstroke. He had been tested for the coronavirus, but the testing took place six days before he began to run a temperature. The test was part of the preparations for the hearings. We were afraid he might contract the coronavirus when he was taken to the hospital for testing," Darko Mladic said.

"In the past doctors expressed strong criticism over the medical assistance Mladic was getting. Now we are not allowed to see the documents about his health. What we are allowed to see is not documentation at all. The secretariat poses obstructions all along. But even on the basis of this scarce documentation our specialists have arrived at the conclusion that medical assistance is inappropriate, which constitutes a criminal offence by the medics responsible. Apparently, they are afraid and pose obstructions to us, because they are aware how many drawbacks were committed during his treatment."

Court hearing

Darko Mladic and lawyers keep demanding that independent medics should be allowed to see the general. In their opinion the appellate hearings did not match the standards, but the prosecution interprets the situation differently. Mladic Jr. believes that judges were under pressure, because the hearings, originally scheduled for June, were postponed till August due to the epidemiological situation. In August, the coronavirus situation turned still worse, but the hearings did take place anyway. "In fact, the judges are now writing the final sentence, for which they will need 9-12 months," he explained.

Sentence and appeal

General Ratko Mladic, a former Bosnian Serb commander, on November 22, 2017 was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. He had spent 16 years in hiding until his arrest in Serbia in May 2011 and subsequent extradition to the Hague. The hearings on the Mladic case lasted 530 days, during which time testimonies by 377 witnesses were heard and nearly 10,000 pieces of material evidence presented.

In March, 2018 Mladic’s lawyers filed an appeal at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. The appellate hearings took place in the Hague on August 25-26. The defense demanded correction of the mistakes committed during the trial and Mladic’s acquittal on all ten counts. As an alternative, the lawyers proposed a retrial.

While in custody Mladic suffered three brain strokes and a heart attack. The defense lawyers and his son believe that in prison he was denied proper medical assistance.