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Mladic War Crimes Trial: Former Bosnian Serb Commander Tries Again To Delay Hearing

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A Kosovo Serb woman stands by a graffiti depicting Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic in the town of Zvecan on May 4, 2012. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/GettyImages)
A Kosovo Serb woman stands by a graffiti depicting Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic in the town of Zvecan on May 4, 2012. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/GettyImages)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Ratko Mladic appealed Monday for a six-month delay in the start of his Yugoslav war crimes trial, saying delays by prosecutors in disclosing evidence could lead to a miscarriage of justice.

The motion filed by lawyers for the former Bosnian Serb military commander was his latest attempt to delay his trial. Last week he also sought a postponement, asking for the Dutch presiding judge to be replaced.

"This filing is made urgently due to the impending trial start date and the injustice and undue prejudice that would result to our client, Mr. Mladic, arising out of the late disclosure of materials if forced to proceed to trial," the motion said.

The court did not immediately react and has not yet ruled on Friday's appeal by Mladic to have Presiding Judge Alphons Orie replaced, alleging he is biased.

Defense lawyers argued that Orie is not impartial because he has sat in several other cases in which former subordinates of Mladic have been convicted and accused him of favoring prosecutors in preparations for the trial.

Orie was removed from the case of Mladic's former political master, Radovan Karadzic, in 2008 after Karadzic made a similar complaint, although the tribunal called his removal an administrative change and did not directly rule on Karadzic's complaint.

Mladic's lawyers also claimed that Orie's Dutch nationality makes him biased in charges linked to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Dutch U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of not doing enough to prevent the slaying by Serb forces of 8,000 Muslim men.

Court spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic had no comment, saying it was up to judges to rule on the motions.

Mladic's trial is to start Wednesday. He faces 11 charges, including two counts of genocide, alleging that he orchestrated atrocities by Serb fighters throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian War.

Mladic has refused to enter pleas but denies wrongdoing. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

The 70-year-old former general was arrested last year in Serbia after 15 years as a fugitive. He is the last major player from the Bosnian conflict to go on trial at the U.N. court.

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