Start of Mladic trial delayed by 2 days

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By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Survivors of Bosnia's war who have waited 17 years to see former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic face justice will have to wait a little longer.

The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Tuesday pushed back the start of the trial by two days to May 16. Prosecutors allege he was the military mastermind behind Serb atrocities throughout the country's 1992-95 war.

Judge Alphons Orie announced the delay during a final hearing before Mladic's trial at the U.N. court begins next month.

The previous date for the start of Mladic's trial would have clashed with an appeal hearing for two Croatians convicted last year of crimes against humanity.

When Mladic's long-awaited trial finally gets under way, prosecutors plan a six-hour opening statement during which they will lay out their case.

Mladic, 70, who denies the charges, has announced he will not make any opening statement.

He was arrested in May last year near Belgrade, nearly 16 years after he was first indicted on charges including genocide, persecution and murder. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The start of Mladic's trial will follow shortly after prosecutors finish presenting their evidence against his former political boss, ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who faces almost identical charges.

Mladic's lawyers have complained that prosecutors are taking too long to disclose evidence to them, hampering their efforts to prepare for trial.

Mladic has suffered several bouts of ill health since he was transferred to The Hague last year, including undergoing surgery for a hernia. He also suffered at least one stroke during his time as a fugitive and has been treated for pneumonia and a kidney stone.

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