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Sick Mladic 'did deal to protect family after his death'

UN WAR crimes prosecutors acted on accusations yesterday that the capture of Ratko Mladic was staged-managed by demanding Serbia identify and arrest the "network" that hid the fugitive general from justice.

Lawyers for Mladic revealed he had cancer, raising further questions over the non-violent -- even friendly -- arrest of the former Bosnian Serb general on charges of genocide.

According to reports in Serbia, Mladic knows he is too ill to survive a trial and volunteered to surrender in return for a promise that the Serbian authorities would look after his family after his death.

After 16 years on the run, Mladic (69) met the Serbian special forces unit who arrested him last Thursday by meekly handing over his weapons and then serving ham, cheese and homemade brandy.

Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said he was waiting for "verifications" of how Mladic had evaded an international manhunt, particularly in the period since 2006.

"We want Serbia to verify who over the past five years has been instrumental in helping Mladic to stay in hiding and we want them to be accountable," he said.

Hinting at a continued involvement of elements of the Serbian state in hiding the former general, Mr Brammertz insisted the general's capture would not prevent a critical report on Serbia's record at a meeting of the UN security council on Monday.

"It is very difficult for me to give names or to say who is responsible. We all know that in Serbia we have different tendencies and forces," he said.

Mr Brammertz said the arrest confirmed "no one can count on impunity for war crimes".

John Hocking, the registrar of the UN war crimes tribunal, who met Mladic on his arrival in Holland on Tuesday night, described a passive captive who calmly discussed his imprisonment process rather than denouncing his captors, as many other Serbs have done.


"He was extremely co-operative," said Mr Hocking. "He did not comment on charges, we talked a lot about procedures."

Milos Saljic, his defence lawyer, said he had evidence of Mladic's battle with cancer and treatment by the Serbian military authorities as recently as two years ago, throwing new doubt on Serbia's commitment to tackle war crimes.

"Mr Mladic spent four months at one clinic in Belgrade being treated for cancer," he said. "He needed chemotherapy in 2009. I believe the treatment might have been done in a military medical academy in Belgrade."

Mladic will be officially indicted tomorrow morning on 11 counts of alleged war crimes committed during the 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent