By Rachel Irwin
Wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic will be filmed at all times during his court appearances, a judge said on August 15, after accusing the defendant of repeated “improper” interaction with the public gallery.
Before Mladic’s trial started in May 2012, pretrial Judge Alphons Orie repeatedly expressed concerns and warned him about inappropriate interaction with those watching the proceedings.
Once the trial began, judges both observed and were notified of further “improper communications”, Judge Orie, who is presiding over proceedings, said.
He also accused Mladic of interacting inappropriately with a witness after judges had left the courtroom, and said the defendant had exhibited “other disruptive behaviour”, though he did not elaborate on this.
In light of such incidents, and order to keep a full record of the trial, Judge Orie ordered filming of the defendants to be “extended to capture the entirety of the accused’s presence in the courtroom”.
During the prosecution’s opening statements in May, war victims in the gallery claimed that Mladic looked at them and then drewn his finger across his throat. (See Sarajevo Siege Recalled as Mladic Trial Starts.)
Mladic has periodically been seen interacting with the audience – variously saluting, nodding, smiling, giving a thumbs-up, and waving dismissively. Victims of the Bosnian war have also shouted at the defendant on occasion.
Mladic’s lawyer Branko Lukic did not respond to an emailed request for comment on Judge Orie’s order.
Prosecutors allege that Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory.”
He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, during which more than 7,000 Bosnian-Muslim men and boys were killed.
Mladic has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. His trial is set to resume on August 21.
Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.