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Mladic lawyer looks to block extradition for war crimes

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-30

The lawyer for former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic said on Monday that he has filed an appeal against his client's extradition to The Hague to face war crimes charges, saying his client is too ill to be transferred.

AFP - Bosnian Serb ex-army chief Ratko Mladic appealed on Monday against his transfer to a UN court where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, after thousands rallied in Belgrade against his arrest.
              
His lawyer Milos Saljic told AFP he had filed the appeal at a Belgrade post office shortly before the end of a three-day deadline.
              
"I filed the appeal," he said, after earlier predicting that it was unlikely it would be upheld.
              
"Everything is in the court's hands, whether it will accept it or not. But I fear that this does not depend on the court, but on those who promised a miracle, who wanted him to be transferred to The Hague as quickly as possible."
              
His lawyer and family argue that Mladic -- the alleged mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre and other atrocities during the 1992-95 Bosnian war -- is too ill to be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) based in The Hague.
              
The appeal is widely expected to be rejected and his transfer to take place in the coming days.
              
The ICTY indictment holds Mladic responsible for offences during the war including the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys -- the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II -- and the 44-month siege of the city of Sarajevo, during which 10,000 were killed.
              
A Serbian judge ruled Friday that Mladic, 69, is fit to be transferred to the UN court despite pleas from his lawyer and family that he is too ill after a series of strokes and other health problems.
              
Saljic said that Mladic may not even live to see the trial.
              
"I don't think the trial will take place. He will not live to the start of the trial," he said, adding that he was making the appeal "to prolong things a little bit, so the extradition does not take place right away."
              
Slobodan Homen, a state secretary for justice, said that if the appeal was sent by post and not received until late Tuesday, Mladic could be transferred between the end of the day Tuesday and the end of the day Thursday.
              
"The whole process can last a maximum of four days from today or a minimum of two days," he told B92 radio.
              
A spokesman for Serbian war crimes prosecutors, Bruno Vekaric, insisted Mladic was healthy enough and that defence arguments were only a delaying tactic.
              
"We have the doctors' report and we also have our own observations. The problems he has... are normal for people of his age who do not pay attention to their health," he told AFP.
              
"This is a defence strategy to delay the procedure. They are trying to present him as demented. He clearly has health problems but this is not a reason from him not to go to The Hague."
              
Police said 180 people had been arrested after skirmishes broke out following an ultra-nationalist demonstration in support of Mladic late Sunday that drew between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
              
Police said 43 people, including 32 police officers, received minor injuries after youths threw stones and flares at police after the protest.
              
The protest was largely peaceful however, after Mladic's lawyer said the former general was urging calm over his arrest.
              
Mladic was arrested Thursday after 16 years on the run and is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes at the ICTY.
              
Serbian authorities have said that the time and date of the transfer would be kept a secret to avoid incidents.
              
Mladic's son Darko said Sunday his father not only said he had nothing to do with the Srebrenica massacre but that he had actually saved lives.
              
"He said that whatever was done in Srebrenica, he had nothing to do with it," said Darko Mladic.
              
Family members have repeatedly visited Mladic since his arrest and on Monday for the first time he was allowed to see his two grandchildren, a 10-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy.
              
Mladic's arrest was largely hailed internationally, but it has sparked some anger and protests among Serbs, many of whom consider him a national hero.

 

Date created : 2011-05-30

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