The defence team of former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who is appealing his first-instance conviction for genocide and other war crimes, has requested his transfer to a hospital outside of the detention facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment.
Similar requests have earlier been made, and the Registrar of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) has argued that the medical facility currently taking care of Mladic is good enough and reacting quickly to his health issues.
A member of Mladic’s defence team, Branko Lukic, told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) that he does not know whether Mladic was transferred to a hospital bit that it is “well known that he is in a catastrophic condition.”
Lukic said Serbian doctors suspect Mladic is bleeding internally but that doctors in The Hague “are simply not reacting.”
“We are not getting the reports we are supposed to be getting, so we don’t have any insight, we only see that something is wrong,” he said, explaining that according to the available documentation, which is now old, his condition is “catastrophic and we believe it is getting worse every day.”
Another member of Mladic’s team, Miodrag Stojanovic, told BIRN that his client is currently in the detention facility’s hospital but that the request for him to be transferred into a hospital in The Hague is something new because so far the team insisted on a transfer to Russia.
“He is very weak, he lost weight, can’t eat, anaemia is draining him, he can’t stand on his feet, so his condition is very serious,” Stojanovic said.
Mladic’s son Darko told BIRN that the family has been requesting hospitalisation for quite some time and that medical experts from Serbia regard the treatment his father is currently receiving inadequate.
This has allegedly been confirmed by an international team of doctors which concluded that Mladic’s anaemia has been neglected, it said.
“The dramatic decrease of haemoglobin within a short period is serious and can be fatal so it requires urgent medical attention,” the experts said, according to the defence team’s request from June 5.
But in his answer on June 6, the registrar suggested the defence’s request should be rejected.
“I am of the firm conviction that the Registry, the UNDU, and/or the UNDU’s Medical Service has not failed to disclose medical information to Mr. Mladic’s Counsel and that they have not failed to meet their reporting obligations,” Registrar Olufemi Elias replied.
“I am also fully satisfied that the medical care Mr. Mladic receives is adequate and aimed at promptly addressing any health concerns he might have,” he said, concluding that the request of Mladic’s team should be dismissed.
On June 9, the Defense requested a hospitalisation again.
Mladic was found guilty for genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, terrorising Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage. He was sentenced to life in prison but both he and the prosecution appealed the verdict.
Prosecutors are requesting that Mladic be found guilty for genocide in six other municipalities in Bosnia.
The former head of the Bosnian Serb forces had undergone surgery at the end of March and doctors said he is recovering well, according to the court.
The appeal process is expected to be finalised beginning of 2021 and the final verdict nine months later.