Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletins

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TiM Bulletin 2012-01

Jan 21, 2012

Jan 21, 2012- An update to "Beat Swords into Plowshares"-essay

General Mladic Continues to Complain of Ill Health, Bad Treatment

Mladic calls judge derisively "Comrade Orie" before judge turns off his microphone and threatens to have Serb general removed from courtroom



“And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”       [Issiah 2:4]



An update to "Beat Swords into Plowshares"-essay (June 2011)

General Mladic Continues to Complain of Ill Health, Bad Treatment

Mladic calls judge derisively "Comrade Orie" before judge turns off his microphone and threatens to have Serb general removed from courtroom

Also check out New York Times vs. Dutch media versions of same story

Also see.. Humane Sides of Accused War Criminals (click here, June 4)

Sometimes Truth Hurts, But It Always Sets You Free (click here, June 6)

Defendant claims to have lost over 40 lbs while in prison

HAIKU, Maui, Jan 21 - In his first appearance of 2012 in the Hague courtroom, the Serb general Ratko Mladic who is accused of war crimes during the Bosnian war (1992-1995), continued to complain of his ill health and bad treatment in prison.  In a pre-trial conference on Jan 19, he again told Judge Alphonse Orie that he was "a very sick man" due in part to a stroke he said he had in Aug 2010.

"The right side of my body is not fully functioning," Mladic said. During the hearing, Mladic repeatedly flexed his right arm and hand and grimaced at the hand.

Mladic said that his illness was "perhaps God's will" and added that he had carried "a heavy burden ... for a while." Since his arrest last May, he has complained of pains from a kidney stone, has undergone surgery for a hernia and been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Mladic also complained that his rights were being trampled because he is handcuffed while being transported from his cell in the tribunal's detention unit to the courtroom, and also because he is not allowed to wear a cap in court despite cold air blowing from a vent above his head.

But the pinnacle of the verbal dueling between the defendant and the judge occurred when Mladic, a former communist, derisively addressed the judge as "comrade Orie."  In turn, the judge said he would call the general "Mister Mladic." 

Neither term fits very well with the decorum of courtroom etiquette.  So it appears that Mladic and the judge are both getting under each other's skin.

This became evident close to the end of the Jan 19 hearing when the judge interrupted Mladic in mid-sentence and abruptly turned off his microphone.  He also threatened to have the defendant removed from the courtroom.

Mladic had begun to talk about "the Serbian knight Gavrilo Princip" who "gave his life for his country and his people, just like me." When his microphone was turned off, Mladic continued shouting and banging his fist on the table. Judge Orie told Mladic that "the nation or the country are not in the dock, but you, as an individual." Judge Orie also cautioned Mladic that he would be removed from the courtroom if he interrupted the judge again.

Earlier, Mladic had said that he expects a fair trial but was afraid that in the end he would get sham justice. "Like that old folk saying, 'the village judge charges you with a crime and then sits in judgment'."

[According to the original Serbian transcript of the proceedings, Mladic actually said, "ali se boji da će biti po "onoj narodnoj: kadija te tuži, kadija te sudi." The term "kadija" is a Turkish word for judge. So there is an implied sarcasm in what Mladic said, by comparing the Hague Tribunal to the "justice" the Ottoman Empire administered when it ruled Serbia for nearly 500 years (from the later 14th to the mid-19th century). It's just one of those things that get lost in translation.]


While some of the things get lost in translation because of the interpreters' ignorance, others are deliberately left out by our "lamestream media's" who try to put their own spin on the news.  The New York Times' version of the story about what happened in the Hague courtroom on Jan 19 makes no mention of the above exchange. Nor about Mladic's comments comparing himself to Gavrilo Princip (Mladic Lawyers Say They Are Not Ready for Trial, New York Times, Jan 19.  By contrast, the Dutch papers did report much more accurately what transpired in the courtroom (see right image or this link: "I am a very sick man"-story).

So anyone who wants to find out the full truth about these trials or other foreign policies issues, might as well start by ignoring the American establishment media stories and going right to the source (the court records) or the local media reports.

By the way, Mladic's reference to Gavrilo Princip also needs some elaboration (the name Princip actually and auspiously means Principle in Serbian).  Princip was the person who fired the shot on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo that started World War I (right shot). He was only 19 at the time he assassinated the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife during a visit to Sarajevo.  One of the misconceptions about Princip is that he was a "Serb hero."  It is something that Mladic evidently also believes when he invoked Princip in the Hague courtroom.  Princip was a co-conspirator of a group of young Yugoslav patriots from Bosnia who rebelled against the Austrian rule of their country.  They co-conspirators also include some ethnic Muslim and Croat men. Wikipedia has a very good story about what happened on that fateful day.  You can read it by clicking here.



About the only merit that we see in Mladic's comparing himself to Princip (shown in the left photo) is that the latter was mistreated by Austrian authorities during his incarceration at a prison in what is today known as Czech Republic (Terezín, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary Empire).  Having been sentenced to 20 years in prison, he died there of tuberculosis after only four years later (in 1918). But that's where any similarities between Mladic and Princip stop.

  • Princip was a tiny youth who was rejected by the Serbian army when he volunteered because of his slight statue.

  • Mladic was a robust, hefty and healthy warrior when this writer met with him several times during the Bosnian war.

  • Princip stood alone against one of the world's most powerful empires at the time. 

  • Mladic was the top commander of the Serbian army which enjoyed enormous military advantages over its adversaries at the start of the war. Yet he and other Bosnian Serb leaders managed to lose that war anyway. 

One of these days, this writer may offer some insights as to why and how they lost it. But I will probably not do that until after I had first testified as a witness at the War Crimes Tribunal (see Karadzic Trial Testimony below).

Meanwhile, it appears that Mladic has not quite yet come to terms with his actions during the war, as implied in the apology which he offered to all victims in early December (see Once Unrepentant Serb General Repents, Apologizes to All War Victims, Dec 8).  The Serb general still seems to see himself as a hero and a victim. So he has still got some soul searching work cut out ahead for himself.

Emaciated Prisoner

Meanwhile, Mladic continues to raise the issue of his failing health in his occasional courtroom appearances.  Indeed, he appeared emaciated compared to the way he looked seven months ago, when he first was first when in public view at the Hague.  Check out these photos and judge for yourself.  The left one was taken June 3, the right ones on Dec 8 and Jan 19.


Mladic told Judge Orie that he had lost 20 kilos (over 40 pounds) while in prison.  But the judge rejected his appeal for more medical tests, saying that he had been examined by doctors and his condition was seen as "good enough" to attend the preliminary hearing, according to a major Dutch newspaper report (see Mladic betuigt spijt om slachtoffers oorlog - in Dutch, we're afraid, thought we do have a rough translation - click on left photo to see a scanned story; also see Mladic Trial, by SENSE agency).  The judge rejected any new medical examinations.

Such a cavalier attitude by the court is nothing new at the Hague. A number of Serb defendants have died while incarcerated there.  The most notorious of those was Serb President Milosevic who also complained about a lack of medical care he was (not) receiving for his heart condition.  He died in 2006 (see Milosevic: Who Says There's No Death Penalty at the Hague?, Mar 2006, also see "Put the UN Justice on Trial" - TiM Bulletin, Aug 1998).  Will Mladic be next?

Karadzic Trial Testimony

As for the trial of the other "star defendant," the former Bosnian Serb President Dr Radovan Karadzic (right), this writer has been in phone and email communications with the War Crimes Tribunal since about September.  It now appears likely that the TiM editor will be at the Hague to meet with Karadzic and his defense team, and also give testimony in court, at the end February-early March.  Karadzic was arrested and extradited to the Hague in July 2008. We will keep you posted on further developments from time to time.


Bob Djurdjevic is a former war correspondent from Bosnia and Serbia.  He is also a writer, musician, a thrice-ordained Inca-trained shaman and a  business consultant based in Maui, Hawaii. 

Also check out... Once Unrepentant Serb General Repents, Apologizes to All War Victims (Dec 8);  Defiant Serb General Ejected from Hague Courtroom (July 2011); Beat Swords into Plowshares at the Hague (June 2, 2011), Humane Sides of Accused War Criminals, Sometimes Truth Hurts, But It Always Sets You Free (June 6), Milosevic: Who Says There's No Death Penalty at the Hague?  (Mar 2006); "Put the UN Justice on Trial" - TiM Bulletin (8/17/98) Rise and Fall of General Perisic: From Hero to Snitch  (Mar 2005); The End Game Is Near: Kosovo, Montenegro Next Serb Dominos to Fall? (May 1996); "The Woman Who Broke Gen. Mladic's Heart" (Mar 1996);  Bosnia: What’s the Full Truth? (Letter to Wall Street Journal, Feb 1996); Bosnia War Diary (July 1994); All in a Day's Work (Karadzic) (July 1995); Wartime Diary Notes about Karadzic, Krajisnik (May 1994); "Collateral Damage" Hits Home (9/11/11)

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