World Bulletin / News Desk
Ratko Mladic, a former Bosnian Serb military chief of what was once the state of Yugoslavia, has refused to testify as a defense witness at former army commander Radovan Karadzic’s trial at The Hague.
Both men are on trial for war crimes against the Bosnian Muslim population during the country’s civil war in the early 1990s, allegations which they both deny.
Karadzic is deemed to be the mastermind behind the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, in which around 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim civilians were rounded up and executed.
In their first appearance together since going on the run from the authorities to escape charges after the war, Karadzic pleaded with Mladic to testify in his defense. Mladic, who is worried that testifying in Karadzic’s trial would harm his own case, refused.
"Your subpoenas, your platitudes, your false indictments, I do not care one bit about any of it," Mladic reportedly told Karadzic, before adding "I do not recognize this hate court. It is a satanic court."
In the court, Karadzic asked Mladic if he had ever informed him that prisoners from Srebrenica would be, were being or had been executed. To this, Mladic replied, "I refuse to testify on the grounds of my health and because it may prejudice my rights as an accused."
After giving the same reply to all of Karadzic’s questions, Mladic also refused to read out a seven-page statement before the court was adjourned.
Karadzic has denied responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre, claiming that he was only following orders. Since Mladic was the army general at the time, his testimony in favor of Karadzic would most likely further incriminate himself.
Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. The then Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic organized Bosnian Serbs to fight against Muslims and Croats in the country, in a war that lasted for three years.
After going on the run, Mladic was finally arrested in 2008 after he was found to be living in disguise under a different identity.
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