The war crimes trial of Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has been suspended indefinitely due to errors by prosecutors in disclosing evidence to the defense.
The decision was announced by the presiding judge, Alphons Orie, shortly after the prosecution described the “horror” of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre it says was orchestrated by Mladic, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
According to Reuters, judges will analyze the “scope and full impact” of the error and aim to establish a new starting date “as soon as possible.”
The presentation of evidence was supposed to begin later this month.
CNN reports that Mladic, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” is accused of commanding Bosnian Serb troops who waged a campaign of murder and persecution to drive Muslims and Croats out of territory they considered part of Serbia. His troops rained shells and snipers’ bullets down on civilians in the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.
“In a period of only five days, from July 12-16, 1995, the armed forces of (Bosnian Serb leader) Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic expelled the civilian population of Srebrenica and murdered over 7,000 Srebrenica men and boys,” prosecutor Peter McCloskey said.
“Mladic himself was on the ground and personally involved,” McCloskey told the court, showing footage of the former general triumphantly entering Srebrenica and congratulating his men.
For his actions, the 70-year-old former Bosnian Serb general has been indicted on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
If convicted, Mladic faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
MSNBC writes that while delays are not unusual in complex international trials, they are a major concern in cases with elderly defendants who, like Mladic, have a history of health problems.
The trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic dragged on for four years due to delays mainly related to his poor health. He then died of a heart attack in 2006 before judges could deliver their verdict on charges that he masterminded conflicts across the Balkans throughout the 1990s.
More on the 2012 war crimes trial of Ratko Mladic in the video below: