News / Europe

Serbian Prosecutors Want to Question Mladic

Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic appears in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague in this still image taken from video, June 3, 2011
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic appears in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague in this still image taken from video, June 3, 2011

Serbia's war crimes prosecutor is seeking to question former Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic about crimes committed against Serbs during the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s.

The prosecutor's office said Saturday that it wants permission from a United Nations tribunal to ask Mladic about crimes allegedly carried out by Bosnian Muslim forces led by Naser Oric. Oric was the commander of Muslim troops in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

The U.N. court in The Hague acquitted Oric, but Serbian prosecutors say their questions involve incidents that were not included in the U.N. indictment against him.

Serbs say thousands of their own were killed in and around Srebrenica before the 1995 massacre of Muslims that Mladic is accused of masterminding. The massacre killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

Mladic was captured last week after 16 years on the run. He told the U.N. tribunal Friday that he fought for his country and his people, not for himself, during the fall of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. He denied the charges of genocide and war crimes against him, calling them "obnoxious" and "disgusting."

Widows and mothers of Bosnian war victims who attended Friday's hearing cried and shouted at the defiant Mladic, calling him a "monster" and "butcher."  Kept behind a soundproof glass, it was not clear if he could hear them.

Mladic declined to enter a plea Friday. If he refuses again during the next court session July 4, a court-appointed lawyer will automatically enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Serbian President Boris Tadic told reporters Friday that Serbia has proven to be serious about improving its international reputation by arresting Mladic.

Mladic also is accused of masterminding the nearly three-year siege of Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, in which 10,000 people died.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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