The family of war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic [case materials; JURIST news archive] will file a claim in the Belgrade District Court [official website, in Serbian] seeking to have the former military leader declared officially dead, according to Serbian media reports [Novosti report, in Serbian] Tuesday. This declaration would allow Mladic's family to collect his state pension and sell his property. Under Serbian law, an individual can be officially declared dead when he is over the age of 70 and no reliable information on his whereabouts has been discovered for five years. Mladic is 68, but his family is convinced he is no longer alive, as they have not heard from him in over seven years and he was in poor health at that time. A lawyer for the family stated that they will still file the claim and ask the court for leniency so the family can put Mladic's prosecution behind them. Deputy Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Bruno Vekaric has dismissed [Press TV report] the family's request, calling it "speculation," and stressed that the investigation into the war crimes suspect's location will continue. Mladic is one of two high-level targets still at large under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST news archive] and faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the Srebrenica [JURIST news archive] massacre and other war crimes violations during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive].
Earlier this month, the ICTY announced that the Office of the Prosecutor [official website] has filed a motion to amend [JURIST report] the indictment against Mladic. Prosecutors believe that the amended indictment will help speed up the court proceedings once he is captured. The amended indictment includes 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws and customs of war that took place between 1992-1995. In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said that the ICTY will continue to operate [JURIST report] beyond its originally planned end date, in part to apprehend both Mladic and political leader Goran Hadzic [case materials], who both face a significant number of charges. Ban estimated that it will be necessary for the court to remain open until 2013.