'Butcher of Bosnia' Mladic in Dutch hospital

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Ex-Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic was admitted to hospital on Wednesday evening. A spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) did not want to respond to the news, but said his condition could not be critical because the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague would be obliged to report that to the court.

No report had been sent from the hospital, the spokesman added. Mladic' lawyer, Branko Lukic, did not want to comment on the state of his client's health. Serbian broadcaster B92 reported on Thursday that Mladic will be undergoing a hernia operation.

Split case for swift justice
Yesterday, it was revealed that United Nations war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz had called for the Mladic case to be split because of his deteriorating health. The judge said by dividing the case, the whole process could be speeded up and ensure swift justice for the families of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Mladic is currently facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

Srebrenica massacre
The first trial would deal with the Srebrenica massacre alone. Mladic is charged with genocide for his alleged role in the murder of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys over a five-day period in July 1995 after Bosnian Serb forces overran the Srebrenica enclave, which had been guarded by a lightly armed force of Dutch UN peacekeepers. The massacre is the bloodiest crime since World War II.

After the first trial is concluded, the next trial would then deal with all the other crimes on the Mladic indictment sheet, namely those committed during the siege of Sarajevo and in other Bosnian towns, as well as the taking hostage of UN personnel. The 69-year-old former general is charged with responsibility for the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital that started in May 1992 and claimed some 10,000 lives.

Contingency plan
The prosecution said in court papers that the split would "ensure the need to plan for the contingency that Mladic's health could deteriorate."

Mladic, known as the Butcher of Bosnia, was arrested in northeastern Serbia on 26 May 2011 after 16 years on the run. He was transferred to the UN's detention unit in The Hague a few days later.

Families of the victims welcomed the news. Another war crimes criminal, Slobodan Milosevic died of a heart attack on 11 March, 2006 in The Hague where he was being held just weeks before the end of his four-year-long trial. After his death, critics said the ICTY had made a mistake in producing such a long indictment sheet.


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