Insisting that he is “gravely ill”, Mladic said that he had been in the prison infirmary when the dossier of accusations was given him and had been unable to read them.
Having heard accusations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity read in court, he described them as “obnoxious” and “monstrous’ and said he had was hearing such charges for the first time.
Mladic demanded time to examine the case against him.
His next court appearance is to be on 4 July, the judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said, adding that he will not need to have prepared his entire defence by then.
After a 10-minute break, Mladic was granted a closed session to discuss the state of his health. He earlier told the court that he had been suffering from stress and his family opposed his being sent to The Hague on health grounds.
His lawyer said earlier that he has been treated from lymph-node cancer but Serbian ministers deny the claim.
The former Bosnian Serb military chief was captured in Serbia last Thursday after 16 years on the run.