THE HAGUE - Ratko Mladic repeatedly disobeyed and shouted at judges yesterday during his arraignment at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. A judge finally ejected the former Serb general and entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to 11 charges of ordering the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war.
Mladic, 69, put on a cap, defying the rules of the courtroom. He gestured to the packed public gallery despite a judge ordering him not to. He threatened a boycott because his chosen lawyers were not there.
Mladic’s courtroom theatrics came at the start of a solemn week for survivors of the massacre he is accused of orchestrating - the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Officials are preparing to rebury 600 people whose remains were dug out of mass graves in the past year and identified using DNA tests. The bodies unearthed in the hills surrounding Srebrenica will be laid to rest Monday at a cemetery for victims of the killings.
Mladic’s actions in court drew anger from survivors of the 1992-95 Bosnian war and raised the prospect of another turbulent trial at the UN court that may offer victims more heartache than justice.
In Srebrenica, the site of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, survivor Fadila Efendic said Mladic’s behavior was like salt in her wounds.
“We are made to suffer, to mourn our children, we are forced to watch him make a circus in the court,’’ she said. “This should be a short trial. He should be treated the way he treated our children, how he treated thousands of innocent people . . . killed at his orders.’’
Mladic had threatened to boycott yesterday’s hearing, only his second public appearance since Serbia extradited him to The Hague in May, because the court had not appointed Belgrade attorney Milos Saljic and a Russian lawyer to represent him.
The judge told him that the court’s registry is studying Mladic’s request to be represented by the lawyers.