Last Updated: Mon Jul 04, 2011 01:34 am (KSA) 22:34 pm (GMT)

Lawyers says Serb army chief Mladic to boycott war crimes court

Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic appears in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague in this June 3, 2011. (REUTERS photo)
Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic appears in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague in this June 3, 2011. (REUTERS photo)

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic has refused to reappear before a UN war crimes court to plead to charges for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including genocide, his lawyer said on Sunday.

Mr. Mladic, who was arrested in Serbia and delivered last month to the Hague-based UN war crimes court for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after almost 16 years on the run, is supposed to be back to the courtroom Monday to plead to charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The defiant general has rejected the charges against him as “obnoxious” and “monstrous.”

The 69-year-old is scheduled to enter a plea on Monday, after refusing to do so last month, but the Belgrade-based attorney Milos Saljic said Mr. Mladic will boycott the hearing to demand that he be represented by his own defense lawyers.

“Mladic said he could not study the indictment and therefore prepare a plea without his lawers,” Mr. Saljic said, adding he was one of the attorneys picked up by the defendant.

Another in the team would be a Russian lawyer, Mr. Saljic said, adding that the defense team has yet to be approved by the ICTY.

Mr. Mladic is accused in a campaign to seize territory for Serbs after Bosnia, following Croatia, broke away from the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s as the Balkan state broke up during five years of war that killed at least 130,000 people.

If Mr. Mladic boycotts the hearing or refuses to enter a plea at Monday’s hearing, Judge Alphens Orie will likely enter one of “not guilty” for him. It is unlikely that the tribunal would force Mr. Mladic to appear in court against his will.

“The tribunal has no official indication or confirmation that Mr. Mladic is not going to appear, so I am unable to comment,” court spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said.

(Sara Ghasemilee, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: sara.ghasemilee@mbc.net)

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