Mladic Declared Fit To Be Tried

Ex-Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has been declared fit to be extradited from Serbia to face trial in The Hague.

Ex-Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has been declared fit to be extradited from Serbia to face trial in The Hague.

Court spokeswoman Maja Kovacevic said the transfer conditions had been met.

Mladic Health Assessed For Extradition Hearing

Gen Mladic's legal team says he is in poor health and that they will appeal on Monday. They have requested that he be admitted to hospital over concerns about his health.

Gen Mladic, arrested on Thursday after 16 years on the run, faces genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

He was indicted in 1995 over the killings about 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys that July at Srebrenica - the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II - and other crimes.
Assessment call

Judge Kovacevic told reporters outside the court that Gen Mladic's health was good enough for him to stand trial.

"It has been certified that Ratko Mladic is healthy enough to take part in that [extradition], because all medical examinations have been carried out and we got an assessment that he's capable, despite the fact that he suffers from a number of chronic conditions."

She added that he had "refused to accept the indictment".

Defence lawyer Milos Saljic said an appeal would be submitted on Monday. The BBC's Mark Lowen, outside the court, says this makes it unlikely he would leave Serbia before Tuesday.

Gen Mladic's wife Bosiljka and their son Darko turned up at the court to visit him.

Darko told journalists his father was innocent and not in a fit state to be sent to The Hague.

He said the family was asking for an assessment of his health by independent experts, including some from Russia.

Our correspondent says Mrs Mladic only recently said she thought her husband was dead.

Having lived freely in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, Gen Mladic is believed to have gone into hiding after the arrest of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in 2001.

Mladic Declared Fit To Be TriedFollowing the detention of former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic in 2008, Gen Mladic became the most prominent Bosnian war crimes suspect at large.

The arrest was hailed internationally.

On Thursday, Serbian TV showed footage of the former general wearing a baseball cap and walking slowly as he appeared in court in Belgrade for the first time.

Reports in Serbian media suggested that one of Gen Mladic's arms was paralysed, which was probably the result of a stroke.

Serbia had been under intense international pressure to arrest Gen Mladic and send him to the UN International Criminal Tribunal to the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

After the arrest, the government banned public gatherings in an effort to prevent any pro-Mladic demonstrations.

But hundreds of ultra-nationalists clashed with police in the northern city of Novi Sad, and there was a smaller demonstration involving several dozen protesters in the centre of Belgrade.

The government is now keen for a speedy extradition of Gen Mladic, whom Serb nationalists still regard as a hero, our correspondent says.

President Boris Tadic said Gen Mladic's arrest had brought Serbia and the region closer to reconciliation, and opened the doors to European Union membership.

Mr Tadic rejected criticism that Serbia had been reluctant to seize Gen Mladic.

A spokeswoman for families of Srebrenica victims, Hajra Catic, told AFP news agency: "After 16 years of waiting, for us, the victims' families, this is a relief."

Gen Mladic was seized in the province of Vojvodina in the early hours of Thursday.

He had two guns with him, but put up no resistance, officials said.

Serbian security sources told AFP news agency that three special units had descended on a house in the village of Lazarevo, about 80km (50 miles) north of Belgrade.

The single-storey house was owned by a relative of Gen Mladic and had been under surveillance for the past two weeks, one of the sources added.

Local resident Zora Prodanovic told the BBC: "I'm really surprised. "My mother lives four doors down from here and I've never seen him."

Reports that Gen Mladic had been living under the assumed name Milorad Komadic have been denied by Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.

Serbian media say he was not in disguise - unlike Mr Karadzic, who had a long beard and a ponytail when he was captured in Belgrade three years ago.

The Guardian

Doctors in Serbia are assessing the health of genocide suspect Ratko Mladic before he can resume his appearance at an extradition hearing which is expected to transfer him to a war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Europe's most wanted war crimes suspect was undergoing medical tests in Belgrade to determine the length of sessions he could face, according to media reports. Mladic was said to be "in poor physical state" after his arrest in a north Serbian village 16 years after commanding the worst atrocity on the continent since the Nazi era.

His speech was said to be slurred but coherent. Mladic, reported to have suffered strokes in the past and be paralysed in one arm, is expected to face continuous health checks during the extradition process, which is likely to last at least six days.

War crimes prosecutors hoped Mladic would appear before the examining judge again on Friday to complete the first stage of the extradition process. This will be followed by a three-day gap and Mladic will have three days after that to decide whether to appeal. The Serbian ministry of justice will then determine the extradition request. Authorities in The Hague expect Mladic to be there next week and will give him a full medical examination.

Mladic is waiting on the approval of the Belgrade judge to let his family visit him. His wife, Bosiljka, was seen entering the court building in Belgrade this morning, media reported.

The surprise arrest of Mladic, who is wanted for the mass murder of almost 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, turned a page in the history of the Balkans, offering Serbia closure on decades as a virtual international pariah and giving the country a chance to take its place as a pivotal regional democracy eventually anchored in the European Union.

The 69-year-old retired general, who commanded the Bosnian Serb military during the 1992-95 war and earned a fearsome reputation as the "butcher of Bosnia", was taken to a special court pending extradition after being arrested at a cousin's home in Lazarevo, north-east of Belgrade.

When Mladic appeared in court he looked frail and walked slowly. He wore a baseball cap and could be heard on state TV saying "good day" to those present.

Mladic Health Assessed For Extradition Hearing

Mladic's lawyer said the judge cut short the questioning because the suspect's "poor physical state" left him unable to communicate. "He is aware he is under arrest, he knows where he is, and he said he does not recognise The Hague tribunal," Milos Saljic said.

The deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said Mladic was taking a lot of medicine, but "responds very rationally to everything that is going on".

Announcing the arrest of Mladic, President Boris Tadic said: "We have lifted the stain from Serbia and from Serbs wherever they live. We have ended a difficult period in our history."

More details have emerged of the capture of Mladic, who had been living under the alias Milorad Komadic. According to officials in Belgrade and accounts to the Serbian media, Mladic wore no disguise and put up no resistance when detained by the Serbian security services and Serbian war crimes unit. "I am the person you are looking for," he reportedly said when arrested in part of a cottage once occupied by the now dead parents of his cousin Branko Mladic.

He is said to have been dressed in multiple layers of clothing, including pullovers, although it is summer in Serbia. He had his own identity card, although it formally expired in 1999. There were two guns at the property. Asked why Mladic did not resist arrest, his lawyer is reported to have said the officers were "just children", in other words very young.

Reports about his life there differ. One version holds that he spent a lot of time indoors, while one 20-year-old has claimed to a newpaper that he had worked for a time in the nearby industrial town of Zrenjanin.

After his arrest, Mladic indicated that he had been following media reports of the war crimes prosecutors' long pursuit of him.

President Tadic, who has been taking the credit for Mladic's arrest, insisted to the US news channel CNN that claims his government knew where Mladic was hiding were "rubbish".

"I will reiterate once again that we have worked very hard in order to arrest him and finally managed to do that."

On Thursday night residents took to the streets to show their support for Mladic, singing Serbian nationalist songs. "To us, Mladic is a hero, a military hero," said one, who would only give his name as Paul. "He protected us from Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, even Slovenia. He saved our families."

The image of a frail and sickly rural retiree was a far cry from the strutting, imperious commander of the 1990s who was a monstrous figure to the Muslims of Bosnia. His name is synonymous with the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995 when Mladic's forces overran the Bosnian Muslim "safe haven" hill town, then methodically rounded up the males and murdered almost 8,000.

The arrest represents a huge boost to Serbia's attempts to move on from a violent past and to try to catch up with other parts of the Balkans in the race towards integration in the European Union and possibly Nato.