The war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic has been suspended until further notice due to an evidence in disclosure of evidence, the U.N. tribunal hearing the case announced on Monday. The trial was originally scheduled to resume on June 25 after it was halted in May.
In a statement, The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said its decision was prompted by an error in the disclosure of documents to the defense.
Mladic is accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s. He was indicted on genocide charges by the tribunal in 1995.
As chief of Bosnian-Serb forces, Mladic is believed to have been personally responsible for the massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. He has also been charged over the 44-month-long siege of Sarajevo from May 1992, which led to the deaths of more than 10,000 people.
The tribunal had entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Mladic on all the 11 charges pressed against him, including murder and genocide, after he refused during his first hearing at the court on June 3. During that hearing, Mladic refused to enter any plea on what he described as "obnoxious" charges.
Mladic was arrested on May 26, 2011 by Serbian Special Forces from a house in the village of Lazarevo in Vojvodina province, ending a 15-year-long manhunt for him. He was later transferred from Serbia to the tribunal to stand trial after a war crimes court in Belgrade rejected an appeal against his extradition.
Mladic's boss during the 1992-95 warin Bosnia-Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic, is currently facing trial at the tribunal. Karadzic, who was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of the charges.
Two months after Mladic's arrest, Goran Hadzic, former leader of Croatia's ethnic Serbs, was arrested in the mountainous Fruska Gora region of northern Serbia on July 20 after evading capture for seven years. He also has been extradited to The Hague from Serbia to face trial at the ICTY.
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had died of a heart attack in 2006 before his trial concluded at the tribunal. Prior to their capture, Karadzic, Mladic and Hadzic were in the most-wanted list of the ICTY for their involvement in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Balkan wars.
Serbia had been under tremendous pressure from the European Union earlier over its failure to arrest and extradite the trio. The EU had earlier set their arrests as a pre-condition for Serbia's entry into the EU bloc.
by RTT Staff Writer
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