After 16 years on the run, Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic made his first appearance Friday before the U.N war crimes tribunal at The Hague to answer charges of genocide during the Bosnian war.

Mladic was once a burly, intimidating figure on the battlefield. But now he is in frail health and his court-appointed attorney, Aleksandar Aleksic, says he has not had proper health care for years. Aleksic said Mladic spent Thursday night in a prison hospital, but the tribunal said Mladic’s medical supervision was routine.

The lawyer said he would ask the United Nations war crimes tribunal to approve more medical tests for his 69-year-old client. The exact state of Mladic’s health sparked a dispute when another of his attorneys, Milos Saljic, said he has a document claiming that Mladic suffered from lymph node cancer and underwent surgery for it in 2009.

But a Serbian prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, said the document “looks like a hoax.”

At the court hearing, Mladic was asked to identify himself and answered questions about his health.  He is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide. He could delay his plea for 30 days, or have the court enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

Mladic is accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys –  Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II – and the 44-month siege of Bosnia’s capital of Sarajevo in which 10,000 died. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.

Mladic has been at The Hague since Tuesday after being flown there from Serbia where he was arrested last week.

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