Judge suspends interrogation due to Mladić's ill health

BELGRADE -- Belgrade Higher Court's War Crimes Department Judge Milan Dilparić this evening suspended his interrogation of Ratko Mladić.

A combo of two images showing Mladić in 1995 (left) and today (Politika)
A combo of two images showing Mladić in 1995 (left) and today (Politika)

The decision came due to the poor condition of the suspect's physical and mental health, said reports.

Mladić's lawyer Miloš Šaljić stated for the media that Dilparić attempted to interview Mladić, but that he failed due to the former general's inability to communicate.

The judge could not even manage to have Mladić confirm his personal data, said the lawyer, adding that his client on several occasions attempted to talk to the prosecutors, "especially to Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor Bruno Vekarić".

But Šaljić said that his client spoke incoherently. He denied reports that Mladić was examined by doctors earlier today, saying this was yet to happen.

Mladić's lawyer expects that the judge will tomorrow attempt to continue the interview.

Šaljić added that his client was aware that he had been placed under arrest and of his current whereabouts, and that he did state that he "did not recognize the Hague Tribunal".

Mladić also asked about his family, Šaljić said. They are expected to visit him in custody tomorrow.

The lawyer confirmed that although armed during the arrest which took place earlier on Thursday, Mladić did not wish to use his weapons.

Earlier this afternoon, a convoy of vehicles left the headquarters of the intelligence agency BIA, and entered the Special Court's yard around 16:00 CET.

Mladić was also to hear the Hague indictment issued against him, after which the court was to decide on his extradition to the UN war-crimes court.

The former military leader of Serbs in Bosnia has the right to appeal that decision.

The final word on the extradition will be given by the Serbian Ministry of Justice. The procedure could take up to a week.

Earlier in the day, Serbian President Boris Tadić confirmed during a news conference held in Belgrade that Mladić had been arrested.

B92 learned that Mladić was not wearing a beard or any disguise, and that his appearance showed he had "aged considerably".

According to this, one of his arms is paralyzed.

The 69-year-old did not resist arrest, and was "very cooperative", said our sources.

Reports earlier on Thursday said that BIA members assisted by police, arrested Mladić in the village of Lazarevo, near the town of Zrenjanin in northern Serbia.

The villagers who spoke to reporters said they were "unaware that anyone named Milorad Komadić lived there", but that they this morning "spotted police at the Mladić household" - the family are reportedly relatives of the former Bosnian Serb military commander.

This is consistent with Interior Minister Ivica Dačić's statement made this evening, when he denied that Mladić was hiding using an assumed identity. Early reports said that a man named "Milorad Komadić, who strongly resembled Mladić" was arrested.

Mladić is wanted by the Hague Tribunal on charges of genocide and war crimes committed in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war.

Eyewitness describes Mladić arrest


Ratko Mladić was arrested in Lazarevo, in the house of his relative identified with his initials B.M., Tanjug news agency was told by an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous.

According to Tanjug's correspondent, Mladić's first neighbor said that he was in the house at the moment of the arrest operation and that he helped the Hague indictee put his clothes on.

Inhabitants of Lazarevo said that security forces broke into the house of B.M., where he used to live alone, around 05:30 CET.

Several dozen villagers are not allowing journalists to approach the house in which Mladic was allegedly arrested blocking the road with a trailer.

There are police officers in the village.

According to eyewitnesses, who also wanted to stay anonymous, police forces searched three more houses of "immigrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina" on Thursday morning.