Former Serb Commander Ratko Mladic Not Ready to Go to Trial Says Lawyer

20 January 2012 – The lawyer for the former Serb Commander Ratko Mladic, who faces 11 charges including those for genocide, has told the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal he will not be ready to proceed to trial until October this year because of the hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence to be worked through.

Presiding judge Alphons Orie said last month that he intended to open the landmark trial against the infamous Serb officer on March 27, though he added that the date was “not set in stone.”

However Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic told Orie at a pretrial hearing it would be almost impossible for defense lawyers to sift through all the evidence by that time.

Mladic faces 11 charges including two genocide counts for allegedly masterminding Bosnian Serb atrocities throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war that left an estimated 100,000 dead.

The 69-year-old former military chief denies the charges.

He again told Orie that he is “a very sick man” due in part to a stroke he said he had in 2008.

“The right side of my body is not fully functioning,” he said. During the hearing, Mladic repeatedly flexed his right arm and hand and grimaced at the hand.

Mladic said that his illness was “perhaps God’s will” and added that he had carried “a heavy burden … for a while.” He did not elaborate.

Since his arrest last May, he has complained of pains from a kidney stone, has undergone surgery for a hernia and been hospitalized with pneumonia.

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