The lawyer for war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic says he has formally filed an appeal against the former general's detention — a move that will likely delay his extradition for at least a day.
Attorney Milos Saljic asked for a battery of doctors to examine the 69-year old, who was arrested last week after 16 years on the run. He is said to have suffered at least two strokes.
Saljic says he has mailed his appeal from an unspecified post office in Belgrade on Monday. Court officials will now need to wait for it and review it before moving forward with the case.
Bruno Vekaric, Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor, says Mladic is employing delaying tactics, and that nothing should prevent his extradition to the international war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Earlier, the lawyer said Monday that the former general is so ill he won't live to see the start of his trial on genocide charges.
The United Nations tribunal charged Mladic with genocide in 1995, accusing him of orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and other war crimes — the worst slaughter of civilians in Europe since the Second World War.
Justice ministry official Slobodan Homen 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.
Tadic says EU must act
Serbia's president said Monday that it's time for the European Union to do its part to boost his country's efforts to join the bloc, arguing that the arrest of war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic proves it is serious about rejoining the international fold.
Boris Tadic also rejected speculation that his authorities had known of Mladic's hiding place, but delayed the arrest to coincide with a visit by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The rumors have persisted because Mladic was found living not far from the capital with relatives who share his last name.
"The truth is that we arrested Ratko Mladic the moment we discovered him," Tadic said.
Europe's most wanted war crimes fugitive Mladic was arrested on Thursday in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run.
He is charged by a UN war crimes court with atrocities committed by his troops during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
But Tadic says he wants the international community to recognize Serbia's efforts and act on its membership hopes. He also pledged to implement key reforms necessary for membership.
"I simply ask the EU to fulfill its part," he said. "We fulfilled our part and we will continue to do so."
The EU has repeatedly said that Serbia could win pre-membership talks only on the condition it arrested the wartime Bosnian Serb commander. Serbia now expects pre-candidacy status by the end of the year.
Mladic supporters riot
On Sunday, protesters hurled stones and bottles in clashes with baton-wielding riot police in Belgrade after several thousand nationalist supporters of Mladic rallied outside the parliament building to demand his release.
By the time the crowds broke up by late evening, about 180 people were arrested and 43 injuries were reported, mostly policemen. That amounted to a victory for the pro-Western government, which arrested Mladic, risking the wrath of the nationalist old guard in a country with a history of much larger and more virulent protests.
Rioters overturned garbage containers, broke traffic lights and set off firecrackers as they rampaged through downtown. Cordons of riot police blocked their advances, and skirmishes took place in several locations in the centre of the capital.
The clashes began after a rally that drew at least 7,000 demonstrators, many singing nationalist songs and carrying banners honoring Mladic. Some chanted right-wing slogans and a few gave Nazi salutes.
The demonstrators, who consider Mladic a hero, said Serbia should not hand him over to the UN court in The Hague.
Demonstrators demanded the ouster of Serbian President Boris Tadic, who ordered Mladic's arrest. A sign on the stage read, "Tadic is not Serbia."
Nationalists are furious that the Serbian government apprehended Mladic after nearly 16 years on the run. The 69-year-old former general was caught at a relative's home in a northern Serbian village.