Mladic Declared Healthy Enough to Face Trial in the Hague

New details of his capture and captivity suggest the fugitive remains defiant

This article is from the archive of our partner .

A Belgrade court has ruled that former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic is healthy enough to be extradited from Serbia to face trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague, where he'll face genocide charges for his role in the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s. Mladic's lawyer, who insists the 69-year-old Mladic (pictured above after his arrest) is too ill to go to the Netherlands, will appeal the ruling on Monday. The general's relatives say multiple strokes in recent years have made it difficult for Mladic to speak or use his right arm, The Telegraph explains, and the BBC adds that Mladic's son, Darko, claims a brain scan has revealed that his father has two scars from cerebral hemorrhages.

New details about Mladic's capture and captivity, meanwhile, suggest that the war crimes fugitive remains defiant despite his age and ailments. ABC News, drawing from local media reports, explains that Serbian police actually raided four separate houses in the village of Lazarevo simultaneously on Thursday morning before they arrested Mladic, who initially gave them a false name but then revealed his true identity, saying,  "Congratulations, I am the person you are looking for" (according to the AP's account, Mladic simply whispered, "I'm Ratko Mladic" when police asked for his identity). The Guardian adds that when Bruno Vekaric, a Serbian war crimes prosecutor, visited Mladic in detention, the former army chief, who was in "robust form," rejected the charges against him and made "rude remarks" about Vekaric's beard. The Belgrade newspaper Blic adds that when guards took away Mladic's medicines and spectacles and put him on suicide watch, Mladic asked, "Are you frightened I'm going to kill myself? Mladic won't do Mladic." He apparently asked prison guards for fresh strawberries, Leo Tolstoy novels, and a television set. The strawberries were provided, the AP tells us. No words on the books or TV.

Back in Lazarevo, according to The New York Times, many villagers are equally defiant. Some are in disbelief that Mladic could have been hiding in such a small community, while others regard Mladic as a Serb hero and are bitter about the arrest. "If I'd known he was here, I would've invited him to stay in my house," one villager says, while another thinks Serbian authorities brought Mladic to the village on Thursday to stage the arrest.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.