BELGRADE: Serbia said Thursday it was preparing a letter to a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague over the poor health of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, calling for his release if needed.
Mladic, dubbed the “Butcher of the Balkans” for his role in the 1990s conflict, is in detention awaiting a verdict from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where he was transferred in May 2011.
The 74-year-old has denied the 11 charges against him, including two of genocide as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic will send a letter to the ICTY over the next few days to demand that Ratko Mladic receives adequate care since he is seriously ill,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
She said the ministry also supported the request of Mladic’s defence lawyers for “a temporary release”, if required, “so that he can be treated in Serbia”.
Serbia “will offer all the necessary guarantees that are required in this kind of case”, the spokeswoman added.
In March Mladic’s lawyers called for him to be released for treatment for “life-threatening conditions”.
The exact nature of the illness was redacted from the court filing, but it said that new symptoms suggested he “could have a stroke or a cardiac event that could lead to a fatality”.
More than 100,000 people were killed and more than two million fled their homes in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 inter-ethnic conflict.
Prosecutors accuse Mladic of a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing to create a Greater Serbia, and he also stands accused of genocide for his role in the killings in Srebrenica, Europe’s worst bloodshed since the Second World War.
Previous attempts by Mladic’s lawyers to secure his release have been unsuccessful.
His verdict is expected in November.