Ratko Mladić: Convicted Bosnian Serb war criminal is in poor health, says his son

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By Euronews  with AFP
FILE - Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic sits in the court room in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, June 8, 2021
FILE - Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic sits in the court room in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, June 8, 2021   -  Copyright  Credit: AP

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladić, who is serving a life sentence for war crimes in The Hague, has been hospitalised in "poor health", his son Darko Mladić said.

In a brief telephone interview, Darko Mladić confirmed his statement to local media that the ailing former general had been hospitalised for a week, first in a civilian hospital in The Hague and since Thursday in the prison facility of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in the Dutch city. 

"He is in a bad state of health. A team of doctors is ready here (in Serbia) to go and see him, but we don't know yet if they will be allowed. We will ask for permission for him to be examined by these doctors," said Darko Mladić.

The court in The Hague said it couldn't comment on detainees' state of health, as such information is confidential. 

Ratko Mladić lost a June 2021 appeal against a life sentence for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the Bosnian conflict, which took place between 1992 and 1995. 

He was found guilty of genocide for his role in the Srebrenica massacre, in which some 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers were killed in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces.

His exact age is a matter of debate, and he is 79 or 80 years old, with him claiming to have been born on 12 March 1943, while the Tribunal says he was born on 12 March 1942.

Darko Mladić has told several media outlets in Serbia and Bosnia that his father suffered from "pneumonia, fluid accumulation in the lungs and heart failure". Earlier, he said his father had COVID in early August but "without serious symptoms". 

He said his father's health had been "deteriorating dramatically" since May.

"It seems to me that his life is in danger. He cannot function independently and he needs a caregiver," he said.

Ratko Mladić has in the past suffered several strokes that caused his nervous system to deteriorate, according to Russian medical experts cited by the defence during his 2016 trial.

However, victims' associations, including "The Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa", have written to MICT president Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, claiming that these are "attempts at manipulation" and have asked her to "prevent" Mladić's possible release from prison for treatment.

"Throughout the trial (...) there has been plenty of information about his deteriorating health and requests from Russia and Serbia for his provisional release for treatment. The whole world knows that the criminal Mladić would never have returned (...) from Serbia or Russia," reads the letter released to the press.

Mladić was arrested on 26 May 2011 in Lazarevo, northern Serbia, after nearly 16 years on the run.