Prosecution fiasco delays ‘Srebrenica butcher’ trial

Prosecution fiasco delays ‘Srebrenica butcher’ trial

Prosecution fiasco delays ‘Srebrenica butcher’ trial

Bosnian Serb army chief Mladic (C) is seen with army officials in this 1994 photo. AP Photo

A judge suspended Ratko Mladic’s genocide and war crimes trial indefinitely yesterday after prosecutors failed to disclose thousands of documents to the former Bosnian Serb military chief’s defense team, a ruling that could delay the trial for months.

Presiding judge Alphons Orie said he was delaying the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal case due to “significant disclosure errors” by prosecutors, who are obliged to share all evidence with Mladic’s lawyers. The announcement is a significant setback for the court in one of its highest profile cases, its final trial to focus on atrocities committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Mladic ‘personally involved in massacre’

Orie said judges will analyze the “scope and full impact” of the error and aim to establish a new starting date “as soon as possible.” The presentation of evidence was supposed to begin later this month. Prosecutors had already acknowledged the errors and did not object to the delay. Mladic’s attorney has asked for a six-month delay. Before the decision, prosecutors said he played a commanding role in the Srebrenica massacre.

“Mladic himself was on the ground and personally involved,” prosecuting counsel Peter McCloskey told the court in The Hague on the second day of the former general’s trial. Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were allegedly slaughtered by Mladic’s forces in Srebrenica in July 1995. “We give this town to the Serbs as a gift,” Mladic said in footage taken shortly after the seizure of Srebrenica. McCloskey said most orders were given orally, but that certain “crucial” military documents had survived and that former Mladic subordinates were willing to testify against him. One woman, Hatidza Mehmedovic, wept in the court’s lobby during a break in the proceedings. “I buried both of my sons and my husband. Now I live alone with memories of my children,” she said. “I would never wish even Mladic to go through what I go through. Not Mladic or Karadzic. Let God judge them.”

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.