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Ex-Bosnian Serb army chief refuses to testify for former ally

Michael Evstafiev / AFP - Getty Images

This picture taken on August 5, 1993 shows Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, right, listening to Bosnian Serb Commander Ratko Mladic during a meeting with the press in Pale. Mladic refused to testify at the trial of his former political counterpart Karadzic on Tuesday, despite a subpoena issued by the Yugoslav war crimes court.

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic refused to testify in support of his one-time political ally Radovan Karadzic who called him as a defense witness at his war crimes trial at The Hague on Tuesday.

Mladic denounced the U.N. war crimes tribunal as "satanic" and said he did not want to incriminate himself.

It was an unusual reunion for the two men, who have not been seen together since the 1990s Bosnia war ended.

Mladic, the former general who headed separatist Bosnian Serb forces, and Karadzic, the political leader, are both accused of responsibility for the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica near the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Michael Kooren / AFP - Getty Images file

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic in the courtroom for his appeals judgement at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands in a photo taken on July 11, 2013.

The two men are on trial separately, but both deny charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The former strongman Mladic, now 71, looked frail as he told the judges why he refused to testify.

"I do not recognize your court," he told presiding judge O-Gon Kwon. "It is a NATO creation. It is a satanic court."

The old political allies exchanged brief pleasantries before Mladic was led out of the courtroom.

"Thanks a lot, Radovan. I'm sorry, these idiots wouldn't let me speak. They defend NATO," he said as he passed, referring to the court. As he came down from the witness stand, Mladic smiled at the public gallery, which is separated from the high-security courtroom by a pane of bullet-proof glass.

Serge Ligtenberg / Getty Images

A career soldier, Mladic stands accused of orchestrating the siege of Sarajevo and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

Reuters contributed to this report.