THE HAGUE, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The trial against former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic has been indefinitely suspended due to procedural mistakes in the disclosure of evidence, judge Alphons Orie said on Thursday.
The announcement came after the opening statement of the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.
The presentation of evidence was due to start on May 29, but the prosecution failed to deliver key material about the first witnesses in time. Orie said judges are analyzing the "scope and full impact" of the error and that a new date will be set "as soon as possible."
The defense team of Mladic asked for a six-month deferral of trial, while the prosecutors admitted the errors and did not object to the request.
On Tuesday, ICTY spokesperson Nerma Jelacic told Xinhua that "the prosecution only this Friday realized that they failed to disclose some of the key parts of the documentation relevant to some of the first witnesses scheduled for the end of May and the beginning of June."
Axel Hagedorn, representative of nearly 6,000 relatives of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, said this was a major "blunder" by the prosecution.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Dermot Groome said Mladic as "a key member of a joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
The statements included details of his role in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo in which thousands of people were killed.
On Thursday, the opening statement focused on Mladic's role in the massacre in Srebrenica. In July 1995, the UN "safe haven" Srebrenica, controlled by Dutch peacekeepers who were supposed to protect Bosnian Muslims, fell in the hands of the Bosnian Serb army under the command of General Mladic.
After the fall, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mainly men and boys, in and around the town were killed. The mass murder was described by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.
Prosecutor Peter McCloskey argued that Mladic was personally present on the spot and in command during an operation performed with "military efficiency."
THE HAGUE, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Twenty years after the start of the Bosnian War, the trial against former Bosnian Serb Army Commander Ratko Mladic got underway at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague with the prosecution presenting its opening statement. Full story