A panel of judges from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday ordered [text, PDF; ICTY press release] the appointment of a medical expert to conduct a medical examination and issue a report on the physical condition of former Serbian general and alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder, PDF; JURIST news archive]. The order was issued in response to Mladic's absence last week from court due to illness. The court also noted that while the issue of Mladic's health had been raised on several past occasions in court and various filings, neither the prosecutor nor Mladic's defense team had requested a medical examination. The report is expected to be thorough in its review:
The Chamber ordered that the medical expert provide an assessment of Mladic's overall current health condition as well as an evaluation of his medical history, including the background to and current status of any health condition predating Mladic's arrival at the Detention Unit. The medical expert is to assess whether and to what extent his current overall health condition is related to his medical history.Mladic has consented to the release of the medical information. However, the court warned that it is important not to interpret the results in any particular way as the public would not be served by positive or negative speculation.
In October, the ICTY prosecutor refused to seek further appeal [JURIST report] of the tribunal's refusal to split Mladic's trial into separate actions: one 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 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]. 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 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.