Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic appears in court at The Hague. (Valerie Kuypers / Reuters )
Reporting from London — War crimes suspect Ratko Mladic was thrown out of court Monday at The Hague after he shouted in protest and refused to hear the allegations against him. The court entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf to charges that he oversaw unspeakable acts of genocide during the 1992-95 Balkans conflict.
"I'm not going to listen anymore. You're talking in vain," a contemptuous Mladic told the International Criminal Court as the presiding judge began reading out the counts against him.
As the former Bosnian Serb general pulled off his headphones and continued to hurl abuse, the judge asked security officers to remove him from the courtroom.
Mladic, 69, is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during his leadership of Bosnian Serb forces seeking to carve out a Greater Serbia from what had been Yugoslavia. Troops under his command laid siege to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for nearly four years, killing 10,000 people, and slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995 in a grisly act of "ethnic cleansing."
After ordering Mladic out of the courtroom, Alphons Orie, the head of the three-judge panel hearing the case, submitted a plea of not guilty on his behalf. No further proceedings have been scheduled yet in the trial, which probably will take months, if not years, to prosecute.
The outbursts Monday offered another glimpse of the defiant personality of the man who was Europe's most wanted war crimes suspect until his arrest May 26 at a farmhouse outside Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. He had spent 16 years on the run.
Since his extradition to The Hague, the grizzled former military commander has maintained that he does not recognize the international court's authority. He has also demanded that his longtime lawyer in Serbia represent him at the court in the Netherlands, which the attorney has so far declined to do.
Next week, relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre will mark the 16th anniversary of the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.