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Former Serb military official transferred to Portugal to serve war crimes sentence

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] announced Friday that former Serb official Mile Mrksic has been transferred to a Portuguese prison [press release] to serve his 20-year sentence for war crimes. Mrksic was convicted of war crimes [JURIST report] in 2007 for his involvement in the 1991 mass killing of more than 260 captives who had been removed from the Vukovar Hospita. The ICTY praised Portugal for its "support in ensuring the enforcement of the Tribunal's sentences" and called upon other UN member states to "assist it in securing additional enforcement capacity."

The announcement came as the ICTY is still engaged in the high-profile trial of Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder; JURIST news archive] who is facing several counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian civil war [JURIST news archive]. Last month the ICTY postponed [JURIST report] the trial due to health problems. The prosecutors and victims have expressed concern that Ratko Mladic could die before facing a sentence, much like former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic [ICTY backgrounder; PDF] who died [JURIST report] in 2006 before the ICTY could issue a sentence against him. Ratko Mladic's first appearance [JURIST report] before the ICTY was in June of last year when he contested charges against him while simultaneously asking for more time to review them. A day after, during his second appearance [JURIST report], he refused to enter a plea without lawyers of his choice representing him and he was removed from the court for disrupting the proceedings.

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