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article imageIndicted war criminal Mladic has 'life-threatening' illness: lawyer

By AFP     Mar 21, 2017 in World

Lawyers for former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic accused of war crimes and genocide have called for him to be released from jail so he can be treated for a "life-threatening" illness.

"The medical health of Mr Mladic is very complicated and involves several and even life-threatening conditions," his lawyer wrote in a filing to a UN war crimes tribunal, released Tuesday.

The defence team is asking that Mladic be granted provisional release from a UN detention centre in a seaside suburb of The Hague where he has been held since being transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in May 2011.

Dubbed the "Butcher of the Balkans," Mladic, 75, is awaiting a verdict in his lengthy trial, one of the last cases before the ICTY, which is due in November.

Prosecutors accuse Mladic of a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing to create a Greater Serbia in the 1990s Balkans wars.

He also stands accused of genocide for his role in the killings in Srebrenica, Europe's worst bloodshed since World War II.

Mladic has denied the 11 charges against him, including two of genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from the cruel 1992-95 Bosnian conflict in which more than 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced.

It is not the first time that defence lawyers have pressed for Mladic's release. All have so far been unsuccessful.

But according to three Russian doctors quoted in Monday's court filing, Mladic is now in a high risk category and they recommend "an immediate, and thorough clinical and laboratory control" as well as a series of tests.

The exact nature of the illness was redacted from the court filing, but new symptoms suggested he "could have a stroke or a cardiac event that could lead to a fatality."

A message from the Russian embassy in The Hague last month said Moscow had agreed "to accept Mr Mladic for the required treatment."

During closing arguments at his trial in December, Mladic appeared often to be agitated in the courtroom and was reprimanded several times by the presiding judge.

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