Prompted by media speculation that convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic could be released from prison due to his deteriorating health, Srebrenica Genocide survivors sent a letter to the president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), urging the court to not consider such an option.
According to media reports, Mladic was admitted to the hospital in The Hague and his condition is serious. Novosti reported that he was transferred from the detention cell in Scheveningen to a civilian hospital on Sunday, where he stayed for several days, and is now in the prison hospital.
Mladic’s son, Darko Mladic, told the media that his father has pneumonia, water in his lungs and heart problems and that his health has been deteriorating since May of this year.
Some news portals raised the question of whether this could serve as an excuse for the release of the war criminal.
Those reports prompted the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide and the Movement of Mothers of the Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves to send the letter to IRMCT President, Graciela Gatti Santana.
“We were very disturbed by the information that appeared in the media that convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic will be released due to his allegedly deteriorating health condition. The entire process against the criminal Mladic before the ICTY and the IRMCT was full of information about his “deteriorating” health condition and the demands of the Russian Federation and Serbia for Mladic's “temporary” release for “treatment”. The whole world is aware and knows that the criminal Ratko Mladic would never return to the face of international justice from Russia or Serbia if you let him go free”, they said in the letter.
If Mladic’s health condition is serious, he should be treated by doctors in prison, they argued.
“We are convinced that the international medical teams of IRMCT are now capable and professional to face any health challenge. Therefore, we believe that the criminal Ratko Mladic should be immediately sent to serve life imprisonment and any attempt to release him should be thwarted,” they wrote.
They pointed out that Mladic has access to “the world's highest standards in health care” while in prison and urged the court to “not make a mistake and allow the criminal to try again to manipulate in order to avoid punishment and escape to the Russian Federation and Serbia, which are countries that provide refuge for war criminals.”
In June of last year, Mladic was sentenced to life in prison. All appeals submitted by Mladic's defence were rejected.
The Hague Tribunal found Mladic guilty of murder, violation of the customs of war, deportation, inhumane transfer of population, terrorism, attacks on civilians, and genocide in Srebrenica.