AP Interview: Serb leader: We did not hide Mladic

June 10, 2011 - 6:28 AM
Serbia Mladic

Serbia's Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac works in his office during an interview with The Associated Press in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, June 10, 2011. Sutanovac says Ratko Mladic was treated in a military hospital in the early 2000, but after that the army did not help him hide. Bosnia's wartime army commander was arrested after 16 years on the run and extradited last month to the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, where he is facing charges of genocide committed during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Ratko Mladic was treated in a Serbian military hospital nearly a decade ago, but after that the army did not help him hide, the country's defense minister told The Associated Press Friday.

"Some eight or none years ago he was in a hospital connected to some diseases, but not under his name," minister Dragan Sutanovac said.

Sutanovac said that an internal investigation shows Mladic "for many years was not connected to the military or defense ministry."

Mladic was arrested in a village north of Belgrade and extradited last month to the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, where he is facing charges of genocide committed during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war — the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.

Mladic's Belgrade lawyer claimed that Mladic was treated in the Belgrade military hospital as recently as 2009. He last week displayed what he said was a hospital document that allegedly proves that Mladic underwent cancer therapy at the time.

Sutanovac said "the paper he produced is a fake document."

"I'm 100 percent sure that this is not an original document," Sutanovac said. "We compared the paper in all military hospitals and there are no connections ... it's not even a good falsification."

Sutanovac said that the internal military investigation does not intend to point to who else could have helped Mladic hide for all these years.

Sutanovac said that when Mladic was discovered in the village at his relative's house, "he was a happy man."

"He was left there to die," Sutanovac said. "He was happy that they discovered him before he died."