The Mercury

Mladic was treated for lymph cancer, says lawyer


THE HAGUE: Ratko Mladic’s lawyer says he has a document proving the alleged war criminal has cancer and has been treated in hospital.

Milos Saljic said Mladic had lymph node cancer for which he had surgery and chemothera­py in 2009.

The lawyer showed the Associated Press what he called a photocopy of a doctor’s diagnosis saying that Mladic was in a Serbian hospital between April 20 and July 18, 2009. The letterhead and signatures have been blacked out to hide the names of the hospital and the doctors who allegedly treated Mladic.

Serbia handed the wartime Bosnian Serb army commander to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherland­s, on Tuesday after he had spent 16 years on the run.

The tribunal has assigned a Serbian lawyer, Aleksandar Aleksic, to represent the former Bosnian Serb military chief when he appears before UN judges today on 11 war crimes charges.

Tribunal spokeswoma­n Nerma Jelacic said Mladic would probably tell the court how he wanted to organise his defence.

Many high-ranking Serbian suspects have defended themselves at the court, but Mladic’s family has said he is in a poor mental and physical state.

At today’s hearing, a judge is to ask Mladic to confirm his identity, if he understand­s the 11 charges against him and if he wants to enter pleas.

Serbia extradited Mladic on Tuesday, five days after his arrest ended his 16 years as a fugitive from internatio­nal justice.

Saljic had argued that Mladic should not be extradited because of his illness.

Mladic remains in the tribunal’s detention unit, which a former detainee, Naser Oric, says is like “a first class hotel” with satellite television and a computer in each 15m cell.

The cells are unlocked throughout the day so inmates may mingle. Oric says the ethnic hatreds that fuelled the Balkans wars largely evaporate among former fighters. – Sapa-AP

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