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Updated: May 31, 2011 17:44 IST

Mladic’s extradition appeal rejected

AP
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In this photo provided by Press newspaper, the Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who was arrested on Thursday, is seen at an undisclosed location at an unknown time after his arrest in Serbia after years in hiding. Photo: AP.
In this photo provided by Press newspaper, the Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who was arrested on Thursday, is seen at an undisclosed location at an unknown time after his arrest in Serbia after years in hiding. Photo: AP.

The former Bosnian Serb commander will be extradited to The Hague, Netherlands "as soon as possible," Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, told The Associated Press.

Judges have rejected an appeal by war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic seeking to stop his extradition to a U.N. tribunal, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The former Bosnian Serb commander will be extradited to The Hague, Netherlands “as soon as possible,” Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, told The Associated Press.

The timing of Mladic’s extradition depends on when the Serbian justice minister signs an extradition order, but that is expected to be done quickly, paving the way for his immediate hand—over.

Mladic is charged at the tribunal for atrocities committed by his Serb troops during the Bosnia’s 1992—5 war, including the notorious Srebrenica massacre that left 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mladic was briefly released from the jail cell, travelling in a secret high—security convoy to a suburban cemetery where he left a lone candle for the daughter who killed herself during Bosnia’s bloody ethnic war.

The 69—year—old former Bosnian Serb general accused of some of the worst horrors of the 1992—95 war was accompanied by a convoy of several armoured vehicles on a swift and quiet trip, Mr. Verkaric said.

At the black marble grave, Mladic left a lit candle and a small white bouquet of flowers with a red rose in the middle.

“We didn’t announce his visit to the grave because it is his private thing and because it represented a security risk,” Mr. Vekaric said. “The whole operation lasted for exactly 22 minutes and passed without a glitch. He was at the grave for a few minutes.”

Europe’s most wanted war crimes fugitive could be handed over to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday, officials said. A defence extradition appeal sent by mail arguing he is not mentally and physically fit to stand trial arrived at the Belgrade court Tuesday.

Mladic was arrested on Thursday in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run.

His 23—year—old daughter Ana, a medical student, committed suicide in 1994 with her father’s pistol. She reportedly never wrote a suicide note, but media reports at the time said she ended her life at Mladic’s Belgrade family house because of depression caused by her father’s role in the war.

Mladic has rejected the official investigation into his case and claimed she was killed by his wartime enemies, saying the pistol was found in her left hand, although she was right—handed.

On Tuesday, Mladic visited the black marble grave containing a cross at a graveyard on a hill in a forest in a Belgrade suburb.

Kadira Gabeljic, whose husband and two sons were killed in the Srebrenica slaughter, reacted with disbelief and anger at Mladic’s visit to his daughter’s grave, saying she almost fainted at the news.

So far, forensic experts managed to exhume only parts of her sons, Mesud and Meho, who were 16 and 21 when killed.

“He was allowed to do it, and I am still searching for my children for the past 16 years, ever since Srebrenica happened,” she said.

“My husband had been found, but what about my children?,” she asked. “I will wait for years. I might even die before their complete remains are found.”

In addition to the appeal, Mladic’s attorney Milos Saljic had asked for a team of doctors to examine Mladic, who is said to have suffered at least two strokes.

Mr. Vekaric accused Mladic of using delaying tactics and said nothing should prevent his extradition to tribunal.

“Doctors are saying he’s capable of standing trial,” Mr. Vekaric said, adding that Mladic will get proper medical checkups once he arrives to the U.N. tribunal’s detention unit in The Hague.

The prosecutor said no one will be informed when Mladic will be transported from his prison and flown to the Netherlands “because of security risks.”

On Monday, Serbian President Boris Tadic rejected speculation that authorities had known of Mladic’s hiding place and delayed his arrest to coincide with a visit by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The rumours have persisted because Mladic was found living not far from the capital, Belgrade, with relatives who share his last name.

“Any such comment makes no sense,” Mr. Tadic said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The truth is that we arrested Ratko Mladic the moment we discovered him.”

The president also said it’s time for the European Union to do its part by boosting his nation’s efforts to join the bloc, arguing the arrest of Mladic proves it is serious about rejoining the international fold.

“I simply ask the EU to fulfill its part,” he said. “We fulfilled our part and we will continue to do so.”

The EU had repeatedly said that Serbia could begin pre—membership talks only after it arrested the wartime Bosnian Serb commander. Some EU nations have already said Serbia needs to do more, including arresting its last fugitive, Goran Hadzic, who led Croatian Serb rebels during the 1991—1995 war.

Mr. Tadic said Hadzic would be arrested as soon as possible.

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