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Mladic Seeks Release For Treatment, Lawyers Say Russia Gave Guarantees

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic (file photo)
Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic (file photo)

Lawyers for former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic are seeking his provisional release from detention in The Hague on medical grounds, and say that Moscow has guaranteed he will be returned to custody if he is sent to Russia for treatment.

In a motion released on March 21 by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Mladic's lawyers said that the 74-year-old's health had significantly deteriorated recently.

Releasing him "is the only just, humane, and medically sound course of action that can ensure he will live to see the trial judgment," the written motion said.

Mladic's trial wrapped up in December. Judges are considering verdicts on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in connection with his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian War.

He faces 11 counts, including charges that he helped orchestrate the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, where an estimated 10,000 people were killed by shelling and snipers.

Miodrag Stojanovic, one of Mladic's defense attorneys, told RFE/RL that his lawyers have submitted documentation on his health along with guarantees from Russia that Mladic would be returned to custody at The Hague after examination and treatment in Russia.

There was no immediate comment from Russian officials.

The court said it was the first time Mladic has filed a motion for his provisional release.

Mladic was first indicted in 1995, the final year of the war that killed more than 100,000 people in Bosnia-Herzegovina and displaced about 2 million others.

After years as a fugitive, often protected by Serbian and Bosnian Serb forces, he was arrested in 2011 in Serbia and extradited to The Hague, where his trial began in 2012.

UN prosecutor Alan Tieger called for the court to sentence him to life in prison, saying in December that anything less severe would be "an insult to the victims, living and dead, and an affront to justice."

"No one can fathom the extent of the suffering for which Ratko Mladic is responsible," he said.

With reporting by AP

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