Court approves Mladic extradition

A defence lawyer for Ratko Mladic says a Belgrade court has ruled that the former general can be extradited to a UN tribunal.

Court spokeswoman Maja Kovacevic confirmed that the court determined that Mladic is fit to stand trial in The Hague, Netherlands.

Lawyer Milos Saljic told reporters the defence will appeal on Monday.

After 16 years on the run, a frail and haggard Mladic was hauled before a judge in the first step towards charges for international war crimes, including the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

The so-called “Butcher of Bosnia” was arrested by intelligence agents on Thursday in a pre-dawn raid at a relative’s house in a village in northern Serbia.

The act was trumpeted by the government as a victory for a country worthy of European Union membership and Western embrace.

Mladic, 69, one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives, was the top commander of the Bosnian Serb army during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, which killed more than 100,000 people and drove another 1.8 million from their homes.

Thousands of Muslims and Croats were killed, tortured or driven out in a campaign to purge the region of non-Serbs.

He was accused by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for the massacre of Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces in eastern Bosnia and the relentless four-year siege of Sarajevo.

Mladic’s son said he is innocent of the charges after visiting his father in jail.

“His stand is that he’s not guilty of what he’s being accused of,” Darko Mladic told reporters.

He said Mladic suffered two strokes while on the run, has a partially paralysed right hand and can barely speak.

Serbian war crimes prosecutors say the health issue appeared to be a tactic to delay Mladic’s extradition. A tribunal spokeswoman said from The Hague that it was capable of dealing with any health problems.

Darko Mladic told reporters after visiting his father in jail: “We will ask that he be transferred to a hospital.”

He said the family was demanding that Russian doctors examine Mladic to guarantee the impartiality of any medical assessment. Russian has traditionally supported Serbia in conflicts with the West.

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