Former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic has been taken to a hospital in the Netherlands after complaining of feeling unwell during his trial at The Hague. The 70-year-old has been in poor health.
The former leader of the Bosnian Serb army was rushed to the hospital on Thursday after asking the judge for a break and putting his head in his hands.
"Mladic was feeling unwell and he was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure," a spokeswoman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Nerma Jelacic, told the AFP news agency.
The 70-year-old former general is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. He has issued a plea of not guilty. Some of the most serious charges pertain to the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys; Bosnians mourned the 17th anniversary of the atrocity on Wednesday.
Known as the "Butcher of Bosnia," Mladic evaded capture for 16 years before being arrested in Serbia last year. He has said in the past that he is too ill to stand trial, saying he is suffering with the effects of a stroke and other ailments; he also recently contracted pneumonia.
"He really looked unwell," Mladic's lawyer Branko Lukic told Reuters news agency. "It was a huge surprise for all of us because he'd been looking in pretty good shape."
Mladic's trial has already been postponed once, after it became clear that prosecutors had failed to submit all of its evidence to the defense team prior to the trial. The military leader's lawyers were therefore given extra time to prepare their case.
Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was once Mladic's mentor. He was also charged at The Hague for his role in the conflict but died in 2006, four years into the trial.
msh/slk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)