The war crimes trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, was abruptly halted on Thursday, just a day after it opened, because of prosecution “irregularities” in the high-profile case.
The decision was announced by the presiding judge shortly after the prosecution described the “horror” of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys it says was orchestrated by Mr. Mladic, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
“The hearing is adjourned sine die,” said judge Alphons Orie, three hours into the trial's second day at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
The judge said there were “irregularities” in the transfer of prosecution documents to the defence to enable it to prepare for the trial, but that the court hoped to announce a date soon for the resumption of proceedings. Mr. Mladic, the so-called “Butcher of Bosnia” is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the 1992-1995 war in the Balkan state and in particular the Srebrenica massacre
“Mladic himself was on the ground and personally involved,” prosecuting counsel Peter McCloskey told the court, showing footage of the former general triumphantly entering Srebrenica and congratulating his men.
“We give this town to the Serbs as a gift,” Mr. Mladic said in the video footage taken in Srebrenica after the mass killings in what was meant to be a U.N.-protected enclave on July 11, 2005.
Prosecutors say Mr. Mladic orchestrated the mass killings as part of a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in the 1992-95 Bosnian war that killed 100,000 people and left 2.2 million homeless.