At the second status conference, the accused Ratko Mladic took 20 minutes to complain about his ‘serious health problems’ and to indicate that ‘even in my condition’ it was his intention to defend Republika Srpska, Serbia and the entire nation. This prompted Judge Orie to remind Mladic that ‘nobody else is in the dock but you’ and that therefore Mladic should defend himself and not ‘any other persons, organizations or entities’

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

The first part of the status conference in the case against the former commander of the VRS Main Staff Ratko Mladic focused on the adjudicated and agreed facts, the status of the disclosure of evidence, guidelines for calling of evidence and the possibility to reduce the indictment. This is the usual agenda for the pre-trial stage of the proceedings. The hearing was delayed for more than an hour because the accused had some health problems.

In the 20 minutes he took to address Judge Orie and the public, Mladic said he woke up this morning in pain caused by the movement of a kidney stone. This forced Mladic to ask the guards – whom he called ‘my good friends’ – to help him. The guards assisted Mladic in getting up, getting dressed and getting him into the courtroom. Mladic’s 20-minute speech was to deal with his health problems only. Instead, the accused rambled on. His speech was often slurred and disjointed; he jumped from one topic to another.

Mladic first said that he was 69 years old and had ‘serious health problems’. Mladic also indicated that ‘even in my condition’, it was not his intention to defend himself before the Tribunal but ‘to defend Republika Srpska, Serbia and the entire nation’. This prompted Judge Orie to interrupt Mladic and clearly let him know ‘it is you and nobody else, not a republic or a nation’ was in the dock. Therefore, Mladic should ‘defend himself and not other persons, organization or entities’, Judge Orie insisted.

Mladic demanded to be examined by the doctors who treated him in Serbia from 1996 to 1998 and were familiar with his problems. As Mladic said, he is ‘not ashamed of being ill’ and that he wanted to ‘get treatment’ without ‘delaying the proceedings’ because, he insisted, ‘I want to get to the truth’. Mladic also said, ‘I don’t consider the Tribunal and its personnel enemies’ urging the UN to ‘be patient’ and not to exert pressure to start the trial with the Srebrenica crimes. Instead, Mladic pleaded, the trial should begin with the events in 1991 and proceed municipality by municipality, dealing with each village listed in the indictment. Mladic then complained that the lawyers he wanted appointed to his team had not yet joined the defense: Russian Alexander Mezyayev and American Dan Ivetic. Mladic concluded that Judge Orie holds all the cards in his hands: the presiding judge is a ‘powerful man’ and the Tribunal was ‘the best company, factory and bank in Europe’. There ‘obviously is enough money’ to bankroll its operation.

Presiding judge Orie briefly dealt with the request Mladic made at the previous status conference not to be handcuffed during his transfer from the Detention Unit to the Tribunal. Judge Orie told the accused this was the ‘standard procedure’ of the Dutch authorities and the transfer of the accused is in their bailiwick. The possibility that an accused might be exempt from the rule was ‘limited’, Judge Orie said.

The next status conference in the case of Ratko Mladic for double genocide and other crimes in the war in BH has been scheduled for 10 November 2011.