Ratko Mladic Fit for Hague War Crimes Trial, Serbian Court Says

Ethnic serb accused of orchestrating the massacre of over 7,000 Muslims.

ByABC News
May 27, 2011, 10:51 AM

BELGRADE, Serbia May 27, 2011— -- Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb Army general accused of orchestrating the worst massacre since the Holocaust, was deemed fit to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, Netherlands, a Serbian court ruled today.

Mladic, arrested Thursday in Serbia after more than a decade in hiding, had been indicted by the International Criminal Court in the aftermath of the Bosnian War, accused of a myriad of crimes against humanity including directing the executions of more than 7,000 Muslims in the small mountain town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. An earlier indictment alleged that he was also responsible for the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the direct sniping of women and children and the kidnapping of UN military observers and peace keepers.

Mladic's first appearance in a Serbian court Thursday had to be cut short because the 69-year-old appeared to be in ill health. A Serbian security official told ABC News Thursday that Mladic appeared considerably aged since he was last seen in public, was pale and a series of strokes had left one arm paralyzed. Mladic's son and wife appeared at his hearing, Serbian state news said, and he is being monitored constantly by doctors.

A lawyer for Mladic said the defense plans to appeal the extradition approval on Monday, which local media said will likely focus on his health.

"We are almost certain he cannot be extradited in such condition," Mladic's son, Darko, told reporters today after visiting his father in jail. "He is in very bad shape."

He was arrested during an early morning police raid on four houses in Lazarevo, Serbia, Thursday. Though he offered no resistance, police found two guns on the property, the security official told ABC News. When police first approached, Mladic gave them a false name but was not wearing a disguise. Then, he reportedly gave himself up.

"Congratulations, I am the person you are looking for," Mladic told police, according to Serbian local media.

Haira Capic, who lost her 26-year-old son and husband in the Srebrenica massacre, said the arrest meant long-belated justice for many.

"For me and thousands of others, justice is finally being served," Capic told ABC News. "It is somewhat cold, but it is justice nonetheless... Now the healing can truly begin."

READ: White House 'Delighted' With Arrest of Serbian War Criminal

The arrest comes after years of international pressure on Serbia to hand over Mladic, who was believed to have been moving relatively freely there. The issue had become a hurdle in Serbia's bid to join the European Union.

DOWNLOAD: PDF of ICC charges against Ratko Mladic.