The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday gave former Serbian general and alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive] six days to respond to a motion to split his trial [JURIST report]. The ICTY hopes to hold one trial for his conduct during the Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive], where approximately 8,000 people were killed, and one for all of his other charges during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive]. Mladic appeared in court and remained silent [AFP report]. Afterward, in a closed session, he discussed his health. Rumors that he has recently undergone surgery were rebutted [press briefing] by the ICTY earlier this week. In a recently released interview from 1995 [RT report], Mladic justified the Srebrenica massacre by claiming Srebrenican Bosnian Muslims were attacking Serbian citizens indiscriminately with arms provided by Iran. He also claimed that no civilians were harmed and that mass graves were a necessity until the dead could be exchanged, but that every casualty received a proper Muslim burial. Mladic also stated in 1995 that he would not recognize a trial by non-Serbians.
Serbian authorities captured Mladic [JURIST report] in May, ending a 16-year manhunt for the former general colonel and commander of the army of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mladic made his first appearance [JURIST report] at the ICTY in June, contesting the charges while simultaneously asking for more time to review them, which he was granted. At his second appearance [JURIST report] he refused to enter a plea. Before that, he had lost his final appeal in Serbia to avoid extradition, and was transported to The Hague [JURIST reports]. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder, political persecution, forcible transfer and deportations, cruel treatment and the taking of peacekeepers as hostages. He is most infamous for allegedly ordering the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the massacre of Srebrenica during the Bosnian civil war, the largest European genocide since the Holocaust.