Ratko Mladic to Face Hague Court June 03World | June 3, 2011, Friday // 10:34| views
War crimes suspect Ratko Mladic will make his first appearance at the Hague court on June 03. Photo by BGNES
Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic will face the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for the first time on Friday, when he will be officially charged with genocide and other war crimes during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.
Mladic was arrested in Serbia on May 26 after 16 years spent hiding from the international justice.
At the hearing, scheduled for 11:00 EET, the judge will ask Mladic to formally confirm his identity and to say whether he understands the 11 counts he will be charged with.
Then he will be asked if he wants to enter a plea to each of them.
Mladic can ask for a one-week deferral and Serbian media say this is precisely what he will do.
On Thursday, the former military commander was admitted to the prison's hospital.
The authorities explained that it was a routine practice to place new prisoners under medical supervision and that this would not prevent Mladic from appearing in court.
The ICTY appointed Thursday famous Serbian lawyer Aleksander Aleksic as interim counsel of Mladic on the eve of his first appearance in court. Aleksic, who will represent him as long as the general will not be assigned a permanent defender, if he does not choose self-defense.
Aleksic grew famous with his successful defense of folk singer Svetlana (Ceca) Raznatovic, who managed to avoid prison through an out-of-court settlement.
Belgrade-based media have suggested that Mladic's defense will insist that he is too ill to stand trial.
However, no war crimes suspect has so far avoided trial at the Hague on medical grounds.
The Serbian-based lawyer of Mladic, Milos Salic presented Thursday medical documents certifying that his client suffered from cancer and had undergone surgery and chemotherapy in 2009.
Serbian officials have questioned these statements, qualifying them as a mere defense strategy.
Despite that, Serbia's Defense Minster and the Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes in Belgrade have vowed to open an investigation into matter.
If the medical documents prove authentic, this will confirm the accusations that Serbian authorities knew where Mladic was hiding but decided to arrest him now in a bid to accelerate the country's EU accession.
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