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Mladic threatens hunger strike over defense team

RIA Novosti

21:53 14/07/2011 SARAJEVO, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - Former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has threatened to go on a hunger strike and refuse to take medication if a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague does not approve his chosen team of lawyers, a Serbian paper said on Thursday.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) accuses Mladic, 68, of committing genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. He is thought to be behind the 1995 genocide of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, Europe's worst single atrocity since World War II.

Mladic asked the tribunal on June 23 to appoint a team of Russian law professor Alexander Mezyayev and former Serbian military judge Milos Saljic to defend him during the trial.

"Mladic said that if the tribunal appoints its own lawyer he will go on a hunger strike and stop taking prescription drugs until his demands are satisfied," the Blitz newspaper reported.

Tribunal registrar John Hocking has taken additional time until August 1 to check the lawyers' credentials.

The paper said the appointment of Saljic as the leading lawyer could pose a technical problem as the Serbian judge does not speak either English or French required by the tribunal's regulations.

"Sajlic will be able to defend the general only if the tribunal changes its language rules," the Blitz said.

Mladic, who was arrested in Serbia on May 26 after 16 years on the run, has pleaded not guilty to all 11 counts against him calling them "obnoxious" and "monstrous." He also requested additional time to familiarize himself with the indictment.

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