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Justice

Mladic calls UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal 'satanic,' refuses to testify

Ex-Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic has refused to testify before the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. His comments in The Hague came as he took the stand against his former boss Radovan Karadzic.

Mladic refuses testimony at Karadzic trial

In his opening remarks to The Hague court on Tuesday, ex-Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic rejected the tribunal's validity outright.

"I do not recognize this hate court. It is a satanic court," Mladic said.

Mladic appeared in court Tuesday to provide testimony for the defense in the trial of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic.

The former army commander took the oath moments later, despite his previous comments. However, proceedings were adjourned briefly so that security personnel could bring him dentures.

Even after the 20-minute adjournment, Mladic still refused to provide testimony.

"I do not want to testify and refuse to testify for reasons of my health and that it would prejudice my own case," Mladic said.

The 71-year-old currently faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from Bosnia-Herzegovnia's 1992-95 war, including the siege of Sarajevo.

Both Mladic and Karadzic have been accused of masterminding the massacre near the town of Srebrenica in July 1995, where more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed. The systematic massacre took place in what was supposed to be a UN-protected enclave.

Authorities arrested Mladic - nicknamed the "Butcher of Bosnia" - last year in northern Serbia. He had previously spent 16 years on the run. The former army commander has been suffering from ill health, including three strokes and a heart attack. Earlier this month, Dutch doctors said he was fit to stand trial based on a recent medical examination.

kms/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa)

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