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Mladic to challenge Hague extradition
Lawyers for ex-Bosnian Serb general says he is too ill as nationalists rally in Belgrade against his arrest.
Last Modified: 30 May 2011 11:06
An estimated 10,000 Serbian nationalists gathered in central Belgrade to protests against Mladic's arrest [AFP]

Ratko Mladic is set to appeal against his extradition to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on the grounds that he is too ill to face charges.

Lawyers for the former Bosnian Serb general - arrested last week for alleged atrocities committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war after being on the run for 16 years - will formally challenge his extradition on Monday.

His family is also planning to demand an independent medical check-up.

Mladic, being held in a Serbian jail, could be extradited early this week, if a judge rejects his appeal.

However his lawyer has said he would post the appeal from a post office in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, meaning the court cannot deal with the document until it has arrived.

Slobodan Homen, a justice ministry official said, extradition could take between two and four days to complete.

"Sending the appeal by mail is an attempt to delay the extradition process," he said.

Ill health

"He's a man who has not taken care of his health for a while, but not to the point that he cannot stand trial," Bruno Vekaric, Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor. told The Associated Press.

"According to doctors, he doesn't need hospitalisation."

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, but Vekaric said that the assessment was not true.

Lawyer Milos Saljic says that Mladic is demanding 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," Saljic said. "His condition is alarming."

Saljic added that 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 suffered a heart attack.

Meanwhile, Mladic's son, Darko Mladic, said on Sunday that despite the indictment, his father insists he was not responsible for the mass executions committed by his troops in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

"Whatever was done behind his back, he has nothing to do with that," Darko said.

The massacre in Srebrenica, which saw around 8,000 Muslim men and boys rounded up and killed, is considered to be Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

Nationalists protest

At least 10,000 Serbian nationalists gathered in central Belgrade to protest against Mladic's arrest on Sunday.

Sporadic clashes erupted at the rally, with several dozen protesters throwing stones at riot police wielding batons.

Authorities said they had detained 180 people on Monday who had attacked police during the protest.

Al Jazeera asks if the capture of Mladic will improve Serbia's chances of joining the European Union

Supporters of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and other similar organisations had been brought by bus from across the country for the evening rally in the Serbian capital.

Authorities stepped up security ahead of the rally, which raised fears of violence, with hundreds of police and anti-riot units assembled in the streets around parliament where the demonstration was held.

Protesters carried flags of the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS), and posters, banners and t-shirts declaring, "Mladic is a Serbian hero!"

Reporting on the protest, Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, said the "ultra-nationalists groups are showing open support to a man they consider to be a national hero".

However, some in the crowd expressed disappointment at the turnout.

"I really regret there are not more people," said one protester, Zivorad Radovanovic.

"When Croatian generals were sentenced in The Hague, the whole of Croatia was on their feet," he said, referring to protests last month when 30,000 gathered in Zagreb to rally against heavy war crimes sentences for two former generals.

After the July 2008 arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime political leader, thousands of ultra-nationalists staged a violent protest in Belgrade, leaving one dead.

"The concern is of a repeat of ultra-nationalists street violence that followed the arrest three years ago of his political master Radovan Karadzic," our correspondent said.

"But up to now the reaction to Mladic's arrest has been rather more muted, rather more low key."

"Since Karadzic's arrest, a lot has changed in Serb society. 

"A lot of people have come round to the view that the way forward for this country is not to follow the ideals of the past but rather to point more towards Europe - to the prosperity that it offers to a country in deep economic crisis," Hull said.

Mladic is accused of several atrocities during the Bosnian war, including the Srebrenica massacre and the 44-month siege of the city of Sarajevo, during which around 10,000 people were killed.

Source:
Al Jazeera and english
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