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article imageGenocide-convicted Mladic lashes NATO at court hearing

By AFP     Jul 10, 2018 in World

Convicted Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic lashed out at NATO during a court appearance Tuesday, accusing the Atlantic defence bloc of "destroying my people and my health."

At a pre-appeal court appearance following his conviction for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity last year, Mladic in customary defiant mode also told the UN judge that he did not "feel well" in detention.

Mladic, now 75, was sentenced to life behind bars in November last year by the former International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for his role in Bosnia's bloody 1992-95 war.

Most notably, the man dubbed the "Butcher of Bosnia" was found guilty for his role in commanding Bosnian Serb troops, responsible for the deaths of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in mid-1995.

There his troops overran lightly-armed UN peacekeepers, before putting Muslim women and children on buses and slaughtering their men and boys, dumping their bodies in mass graves.

"I am defending myself against NATO, which destroyed my country and my health," said Mladic on Tuesday as he dramatically took off his jacket to reveal a shirt with "NATO" written in bold letters and a Facebook thumbs-down "dislike" sign underneath it.

The Atlantic alliance played an important role in ending the war in Bosnia, unleashing air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions in 1995 and deploying a peacekeeping force later that year after the Dayton peace accords.

"I think this is a false tribunal and I don't recognise it," Mladic also told presiding judge Theodor Meron of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) which has taken over the duties of the ICTY and which is hearing the appeals in his case.

Mladic, who often complains about his health while being held at the UN's detention unit in a Hague seaside suburb near the court, told the judge he was "not well."

"My health has suddenly deteriorated from 2008 and until today I had a number of problems and a number of heart attacks. They have not been registered," an animated Mladic said.

His lawyer Dragan Ivetic told the court his client was suffering from an irregular heartbeat and was in danger of "sudden cardiac death."

"I want to assure you that we take complaints pertaining to health matters very seriously," judge Meron replied.

Both Mladic and prosecutors said they would appeal the sentence but a date for the hearing has not yet been set.

Mladic, together with his political alter-ego Radovan Karadzic have been sentenced by the Hague-based court for their roles the war that broke out after the former Yugoslavia split after the fall of communism in the early 1990s.

Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, died in his cell from natural causes in 2006, aged 64, while awaiting a verdict on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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