Ratko Mladic, ex-Bosnian Serb general, led from court

Mladic in court: ''I'm not going to listen to this''

Ex-Bosnian Serb army head Ratko Mladic has been removed from a hearing at The Hague war crimes tribunal after quarrelling with the judge.

Gen Mladic was ordered out after continually interrupting the proceedings.

The court entered a plea of not guilty on Mr Mladic's behalf, after Mr Mladic refused to do so.

Mr Mladic is charged with crimes including genocide in connection with the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

He attempted to speak several times at the beginning of the hearing, but Judge Alfons Orie asked him to remain silent until he was allowed to speak.

Analysis

It was a morning of extraordinary legal confrontation, but one that was not totally unexpected.

The judges and court officials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have grown accustomed to the bursts of anger from the accused.

They have learned how to deal with requests from defendants intent on playing on their physical ailments and drawing out the legal process.

After Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic et al, there are few surprises in store for the ICTY.

He was reprimanded by the judge for speaking out of turn and communicating with the public gallery.

Mr Mladic then refused to enter a plea after his request to change his lawyer to one of his choosing rather than a court-appointed one was denied, because he had not made his request in time, the judge said.

When Judge Orie began to read out the charges, Mr Mladic shouted: "No, no, I'm not going to listen to this without my lawyer," removing his translation headphones.

"Who are you? You're not allowing me to breathe," Mr Mladic snapped.

Shortly before guards escorted Mr Mladic from court, he shouted at Judge Orie: "You want to impose my defence. What kind of a court are you?"

After he was removed, the judge read out all 11 charges, including murder and genocide, and entered pleas of not guilty on Mr Mladic's behalf.

From the moment he walked in, Mr Mladic was absolutely defiant, says the BBC's Lauren Comiteau who was there, adding that she had never seen anything quite like it in 15 years of covering the court.

The charges

  • Counts 1/2: Genocide of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Srebrenica
  • Count 3: Persecutions
  • Counts 4/5/6: Extermination and murder
  • Counts 7/8: Deportation and inhumane acts
  • Counts 9/10: Terror and unlawful attacks
  • Count 11: Taking of UN hostages

Mr Mladic would not take off his hat; he was communicating with the public gallery, giving a thumbs up; the judge warned him not to do that; he continued to do it throughout the hearing, our correspondent says.

He interrupted the judge at every turn he could, and then finally when the judge did start to read out the charges, he threw up his hands, started screaming and he had to be removed from the court, she says.

Meanwhile, survivors, mothers from Srebrenica, were also screaming, saying he killed Muslims, that he should plead guilty, our correspondent adds.

Srebrenica massacre

It was Gen Mladic's second appearance before the court, after a hearing on 3 June when he declined to plead on what he called 11 "obnoxious" charges.

His Belgrade lawyer, Milos Saljic, had said the former general would boycott the hearing as his defence team has not been approved. Mr Mladic was represented in court by court-appointed lawyer Aleksandar Aleksic.

Gen Mladic was extradited to the Netherlands from Serbia at the end of May after being captured following 15 years as a fugitive.

He is charged in connection with the massacre of about 7,500 people in Srebrenica - Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

Gen Mladic is also charged over the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo from May 1992 in which 10,000 people died.

 

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