The former Serbian general’s trial has been delayed at The Hague
Ratko Mladic must continue to wait to hear the verdict in his U.N. war crimes trial as the presiding judge has ruled that prosecutors failed to deliver evidence to the defense team in due time.
Ratko Mladic is accused of commanding Bosnian Serb troops in the attempted genocide of Muslim and Croat men, women and children that left ever 100,000 during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Ratko Mladic was the general in charge of the siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, which lasted 44 months.
Mladic, 70, was also the leader of troops who conducted the brutal murders of between 7,000 and 8,000 Muslim civilians, including men and boys, in the Bosnian city of Srebenica in July 1995. It was the worst massacre Europe has seen since World War II and one many Bosnians still remember in horrific detail.
Mladic’s trial has been suspended indefinitely after it was acknowledged that “significant disclosure errors” were committed by prosecutors in the trial, according to presiding judge Alphons Orie.
In a document sent from prosecutors to Mladic’s defense team, prosecutors admitted that they failed to upload documents to an electronic database accessible to defense lawyers, stating, “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that these missing materials . . . may have caused to you.”
Prosecutors also acknowledged the impact of their error on the defense team, stating it “could impact on the fairness of the trial to the accused,” according to court spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic.
According to The Associated Press, much of the missing materials focused on witnesses prosecutors intended to call to testify before the court takes an abbreviated summer break in July.
Mladic’s defense team is requesting a delay of six months. Judge Orie has said that U.N. judges at The Hague in Netherlands, the location of the tribunal, will analyze the “scope and full impact” of the prosecutor’s error and try to set a new starting date for the trial “as soon as possible.”
Prosecutors had wrapped up their opening statements early Thursday with gruesome details of the massacre at Srebenica. The presentation of evidence was scheduled to begin later this month. Mladic has refused to enter a plea on his behalf, claiming he is free from wrongdoing and was only acting to protect Bosnian Serbs. If convicted, the charge would carry a maximum sentence of life in prison
Ratko Mladic was only arrested last year after spending 15 years as a fugitive after the war. Serbs of all ethnicities harbor mixed feelings over his arrest and trial, ranging from outrage to solidarity.