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Prosecutors seek to block release of Bosnian Serb Mladic for medical treatment

By Stephanie van den Berg

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Prosecutors sought to deny on Monday a request by former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic that he be released for medical treatment in Russia before a verdict in his genocide trial.

The former general, facing war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for his alleged role in the 1992-1995 Balkan wars, suffered several strokes before he was arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run and is considered at risk of more.

Mladic's lawyers had filed a motion for his provisional release two weeks ago, arguing that his condition was seriously deteriorating after a short hospitalization for an undisclosed medical issue in March.

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In a filing published on Monday, prosecutors said that Mladic was getting the best possible care in The Hague and reports of a worsening of his condition by his defense team were "disingenuous".

"The motion should be denied ... His (Mladic's) long history as a fugitive from justice and the severity of the charges against him demonstrate the risk he would abscond prior to judgment," the prosecution document said.

Mladic was gravely ill when he arrived at the U.N. court in The Hague after years on the run, prosecutors said. "The medical treatment that followed, as he explicitly acknowledged, saved his life," they said.

The medical issues in Mladic's case echoed those of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in his cell in 2006 of a heart attack before his verdict on genocide charges.

Milosevic had made a similar request for provisional release to receive medical treatment in Russia a month earlier.

Mladic, 75, is awaiting judgment after a four-year trial on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in an ethnic cleansing campaign in Bosnia that saw the 1995 genocide of thousands of Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica.

(Editing by Anthony Deutsch, Larry King)

 
 
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