BELGRADE, Serbia – Ratko Mladic claims he did not order the massacre of 8,000 men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica when it fell during the 1992-1995 war, his son said Sunday.
Darko Mladic said his father denies being the instigator of the massacre — the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.
"Whatever was done in Srebrenica, he has nothing to do with it," Darko Mladic said. "His orders were to evacuate the wounded, the women and the children and then the fighters. Whatever was done behind his back, he has nothing to do with that."
Europe's most wanted war crimes fugitive, the 69-year old former general is being held in a Serbian jail after his arrest last week after 16 years on the run. He is charged with genocide and other war crimes by the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, which reviewed what it called compelling evidence that he personally orchestrated the massacre and other atrocities.
It was not clear when the former commander of Serb forces in Bosnia made the claims. His family and lawyers have been fighting extradition, arguing that the general is too ill to face charges.
The family plans to demand Monday that a Serbian court order an independent medical checkup to dispute a conclusion by court-appointed doctors that Mladic is fit to stand trial.
"His basic human rights are being violated," Darko Mladic said.
Prosecutors have dismissed the family's moves as a delaying tactic.
Serbian authorities have stepped up security throughout the country ahead of an ultranationalist rally planned in central Belgrade Sunday evening.
Similar rallies in the past have resulted in clashes between the police and right-wing extremists.
Defense requests appear likely to delay Mladic's extradition until at least Tuesday. His lawyer, Milos Saljic, said he would send an extradition appeal by mail — instead of submitting it personally — in order to gain more time.
Mladic has suffered at least two, and possibly three strokes, the latest in 2008, his son said. The suspect's right arm is only semi-functional, and his family says he is not lucid.
"It is impossible to talk to him sensibly about usual things, to talk about his defense case," lawyer Saljic said. "Because he is really in bad shape psychologically."
Above all, the former commander keeps demanding that he be allowed to visit the grave of his daughter, who committed suicide in 1994.
"He says if he can't go there, he wants his daughter's coffin brought in here," the lawyer added. "His condition is alarming."
Saljic said the family does not believe that Mladic would receive proper medical attention in The Hague. He noted that several high-profile Serbs had died there, including former President Slobodan Milosevic, who had a fatal heart attack.