The Tribunal’s chief prosecutor insisted on the importance of Mladic’s arrest for the Tribunal, the international community and the victims of the crimes Mladic is charged with. Brammertz also spoke about various options for the upcoming trial. The Tribunal’s Registrar spent several hours with Mladic at the Rotterdam Airport and the UN Detention Unit. The Registrar described the accused as ‘very cooperative’. Mladic will have his initial appearance before a judge on Friday at 10 am

Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor in the TribunalSerge Brammertz, chief prosecutor in the Tribunal

‘Of course Ratko Mladic should have been arrested sooner! He should have been arrested 16 years ago and that would have been the only good solution. So this is taking place very late, but not too late’, said Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz at a press conference today when a reporter asked him about the long time it had taken to finally transfer the former commander of the VRS Main Staff to The Hague. Mladic is to face charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Brammertz began by stressing the importance of Mladic’s arrest for the Tribunal, which is nearing the end of its mandate, and for international justice and global fight against impunity. As Brammertz said, Mladic’s arrest was of ‘greatest importance for the victims’. Brammertz recognized the victims’ ‘patience and courage’: they have ‘waited too long for justice and have every right to be frustrated’.

Brammertz recognized the efforts made by Serbia and the ‘security services’ that took part in the search for Mladic. Brammertz paid tribute to the international community too, and in particular to the European Union and its conditionality policy. According to Brammertz, this was of crucial importance. Brammertz also thanked various civil society organizations in the former Yugoslavia and the Tribunal’s staff who had worked ‘in the shadow of the Tribunal’s closing down’, as Brammertz put it.

Talking to the journalists, Brammertz said that the Tribunal was considering various options that might make the upcoming trial as expeditious as possible. As Brammertz said, the indictment may be reduced in scope and Mladic’s case may be joined with the Karadzic trial. The latter is not believed to be highly likely, given that the trial of the former Republika Srpska president is too far gone. Brammertz didn’t want to comment on an option suggested by another journalist, to try Mladic separately for each of the four joint criminal enterprises – Srebrenica, Sarajevo, ethnic cleansing in various BH municipalities and UN hostage taking. This would not depend only on the prosecution, Brammertz noted, but also on the health of the accused and his defense strategy and the judges would at any rate have the final say.

After Brammertz, the ICTY Registrar John Hocking appeared before the journalists. Yesterday evening, Hocking met Mladic at the Rotterdam Airport and escorted him to the Detention Unit. Hocking spent several hours talking to Mladic. Mladic was ‘very cooperative’, Hocking said, and they had ‘no problems understanding each other’. The doctor who examined Mladic at the airport confirmed that Mladic was fit for the trip to the Detention Unit. The doctors in the Unit established that there were no urgent medical problems. Mladic didn’t talk about the charges against him and didn’t contest the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the Registrar recounted. They mostly discussed the procedure, the detention rules and the rights of the accused, visits, telephone calls and similar issues. Finally, in response to a journalist’s question, Hocking stated ‘categorically’ that Mladic was not under suicide watch.

Ratko Mladic will leave the UN Detention Unit in Scheveningen for the first time on Friday, 3 June 2011, for his initial appearance, which has been scheduled for 10 am. Mladic will face a judge – or judges – and be asked to enter his plea on the counts in the indictment.

Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor in the Tribunal
John Hocking, Tribunal secretary