Mladic war crimes trial to resume June 25: court

The genocide and warcrimes trial of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, which was adjourned a day after it opened, will resume on June 25, the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Thursday.

"Trial Chamber I scheduled the start of the prosecution's first witness in the Mladic trial for Monday, June 25, 2012," the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said in a statement.

The trial had been adjourned indefinitely a day after it opened in The Hague on May 16 due to "irregularities" in the transfer of prosecution documents to the defence to enable it to prepare for the trial.

Mladic, 70, the so-called "Butcher of Bosnia", is charged with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

They include in particular the masterminding of the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

Prosecutors also hold Mladic responsible for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left an estimated 10,000 people dead, the vast majority of them civilians.

Mladic, who was arrested a year ago in Serbia after more than 16 years on run, pleaded not guilty to the charges at an earlier court hearing. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The trial chamber Thursday found "a postponement of the hearing of the prosecution's first witness was justified, but did not consider that the defence's request for a six-month postponement be granted."

It added: "Disclosure failures... have an impact on the defence's preparation for trial."

Mladic's lawyers may need to supplement their preparation with "additional searches and further reviews," the court said, adding "all of this requires extra time."

On the trial's opening day prosecutors had told the court Mladic masterminded "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia's war in which 100,000 people lost their lives and 2.2 million others were left homeless.

They showed horror videos taken in Srebrenica after the mass killings on July 11, 1995, in what was meant to be a protected UN enclave.

The footage showed the former general triumphantly entering Srebrenica and congratulating his men, telling them: "We give this town to the Serbs as a gift", while in another video bodies of Srebrenica Muslims are stacked in piles next to the road.

Mladic often shook his head during the proceedings, though at times a faint smile crossed his lips as prosecutors played video clips of him giving orders to troops or speaking with journalists.

He appeared in better shape than at his first appearance last June, when he told the court he was a "sick man".

But his defence team says he has suffered three strokes -- in 1996, 2008 and 2011 -- that partly paralysed him on his right side.

Mladic's defence lawyers had asked last Monday for a six-month delay in the trial, saying they needed more time to prepare.

Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in custody in 2006 before the conclusion of his own war crimes trial.

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