Mladic defence seeks his release to Serbia on health grounds

FILE PHOTO: Former Bosnian Serb commander Mladic appeal judgement at UN court in The Hague

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Defence lawyers for Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the bloody 1992-95 war in Bosnia, are seeking his urgent release to Serbia on health grounds.

According a motion published on the U.N. court's website on Monday, they are petitioning judges to release the elderly general for treatment of an unnamed but potentially life-threatening condition.

Descriptions of the 82-year-old's medical condition are redacted in the court papers but he has been known to suffer cognitive impairments and was hospitalised at least twice this year.

The former general, nicknamed the butcher of the Balkans, resides in the U.N. detention centre in The Hague since his final conviction on appeal in 2021.

Mladic led Bosnian Serb forces during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, part of the bloody break up of Yugoslavia. He was convicted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes including terrorising the civilian population of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo during a 43-month siege, and the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys taken prisoner in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995.

According to his lawyers, Mladic can get special treatment in Serbia for his undisclosed illness and a move to the country would remove language barriers which present communications difficulties.

It is not clear when the judges of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which deals with Mladic's case, will rule on the application.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout)