Mladic lawyers call for Bosnian Serb general's release

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) " Lawyers for former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic say he is seriously ill and could die before verdicts are handed down in his United Nations trial if he is not provisionally released from custody for treatment.

In a written motion released Tuesday by the U.N.'s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Mladic's lawyers say that releasing him "is the only just, humane, and medically sound course of action that can ensure he will live to see the trial judgment."

Mladic's trial wrapped up in December and judges are considering their verdicts, a process expected to take months. He is charged with 11 counts including allegedly masterminding the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in eastern Bosnia's Srebrenica enclave and overseeing the deadly campaign of shelling and sniping in the capital, Sarajevo.

Prosecutors have demanded a life sentence, while Mladic's lawyers insist he is innocent and should be freed.

Mladic, 71, reportedly suffered at least one stroke during years as a fugitive from international justice. He was finally arrested in 2011 and sent to The Hague to face trial, where he has often complained of ill health.

In the motion seeking Mladic's release, his lawyers argued that he has not received adequate care at the tribunal's detention unit or a nearby Dutch hospital and should be allowed to travel to Russia to seek medical treatment.

The lawyers said that Russian authorities have given guarantees that they would enforce any conditions set by the tribunal if it were to release Mladic.

Calls to the tribunal seeking comment were not immediately returned.

In their motion, lawyers said that Mladic recently began displaying new symptoms that they said are "are warning signs of an impending or ongoing TIA, (Transient Ischemic Attack) which could lead to a stroke, or cardiac event that could lead to a fatality."

Transient ischemic attacks, also known as mini-strokes, are brief lapses in blood flow to the brain.

In 2006, former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of fomenting violence across the region as Yugoslavia crumbled amid fighting in the early 1990s, died in his cell at the tribunal's detention unit before verdicts could be delivered in his trial.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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