Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic will face judges at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague for the first time on Friday, when he will be formally charged with genocide and 10 other counts of war crimes concerning the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s. He is being held in the custody of the tribunal.
Chief prosecutor for the United Nations war crimes tribunal, Serge Brammertz, will himself be in court Friday when Mladic will be asked to enter a plea to charges of genocide, murder and persecution.
"He was the most powerful military figure in Bosnia during the war," said Brammertz. "He’s charged with crimes that shock the conscience of the international community. These crimes symbolize the brutality of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
They include the three-year siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Tribunal registrar John Hocking met Mladic at Rotterdam’s airport Tuesday night, accompanied by a doctor and an interpreter. Hocking said the former Bosnian Serb military leader listened carefully and understood the documents he was presented with, as well as the rules of the court.
"He was extremely cooperative," said Hocking. "We explained to the detainees the privileges they have, for example in relation to communications, telephone calls, visitor rights, their rights to see consular representatives. And this procedure went very smoothly. It was a very cooperative and very smooth induction process."
Citing the right to privacy, Hocking did not give specifics about Mladic’s health. But he said the general's health is good enough for now - both mentally and physically - to proceed to court on Friday.