Hague Court Rejects Ratko Mladic’s Plea for Provisional Release

The UN war crimes court rejected a request from former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic to grant him provisional release on humanitarian grounds or allow him to continue to serve his life sentence in Serbia.

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Ratko Mladic. Photo: MICT

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals has denied a request from Ratko Mladic, who is serving a life sentence for genocide and other wartime crimes, for provisional release to Serbia on humanitarian grounds because of his poor health.

In a decision made on May 31 but published on the Hague-based war crimes court’s website this week, it also rejected Mladic’s request to serve the rest of his sentence in Serbia.

In his request, Mladic alleged that his illness was not being treated properly in detention and that he would receive better healthcare in Serbia. He also complained about the language barrier he currently faces in custody in the Netherlands.

Court president Graciela Gatti Santana said in her decision that sentences must be served in states with which the United Nations has agreements for that purpose, and that Serbia would not be a viable option.

“Having served only approximately 13 years of his life sentence, Mladic has not yet reached the eligibility threshold for early release,” she added.

Mladic, who is 82, has had several serious medical problems since he has been in detention in the Netherlands and has suffered two strokes and a heart attack. He also had a colon operation in 2020.

His lawyers have repeatedly claimed that he has not been getting proper treatment and that his health problems have been underestimated.

Gatti Santana said that the latest medical monitoring on Mladic that she received from the UN Detention Unit indicated that his condition was currently stable and had showed a significant improvement.

“Based on the information before me, I am of the view that the compelling humanitarian circumstances invoked by Mladic are not substantiated at this stage, and that Mladic receives all necessary care at the UNDU. I consider that the application [for release to Serbia] should be denied,” she said.

She also said that Mladic should be provided with any medical records he has requested as soon as possible, and that he should continue to have access to translation services in his own language.

Mladic was convicted in June 2021 of the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across the country during the war, terrorising the population of Sarajevo with a campaign of shelling and sniping during the siege of the city, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Emina Dizdarević Tahmiščija

This post is also available in: Bosnian