- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2011

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic knows he will be extradited to a U.N. war crimes tribunal but wants time to rest before the trip, his lawyer said Saturday.

Attorney Milos Saljic told reporters that Mladic does not know exactly when he will be extradited to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, “but he would like to recover a little bit first.”

Mladic, 69, is being held in a Serbian jail. He could be extradited as early as Monday if a judge rejects his appeal of a decision to move him to The Hague. His defense team and family have said he suffers from several health problems.

Serbia’s police chief said security has been tightened throughout the country ahead of the protest planned by ultranationalists over Mladic’s arrest Thursday in a tiny Serbian village after 16 years on the run.

Ivica Dacic said the rally scheduled for Sunday in Belgrade will closely be watched by the police.

He said that: “Security has been increased, but the situation in Serbia is stable.”

Saljic said Mladic made “a public appeal” against violence by his supporters.

“He is calling for there to be no bloodshed,” Saljic told reporters after meeting Mladic in his prison cell. “He does not want to be the cause of unrest.”

Mladic is charged by the U.N. war crimes court for his part in the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and other atrocities committed by his troops during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

There are fears of violence as extreme right-wing groups are calling their supporters, mostly soccer hooligans, to join the Sunday rally in front of the downtown parliament building organized by the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party.

“Additional attention has been focused on the extremist groups these days,” Dacic said. “We are taking measures to prevent the escalation of extremist behavior.”

Saljic also told reporters Mladic’s mental state was poor.

“He’s in a kind of confusion,” Saljic said. “His health has not improved.”

Saljic said Mladic asked to see some of his “old friends.” A judge would have to approve such visits, the lawyer said.

Mladic’s son Darko told reporters in front of the Belgrade court that the former fugititive looked a bit better than he did Friday but seemed unaware of the situation he faces.

“If you were able to talk to him for five minutes, you would know what I’m talking about,” Darko Mladic says, reiterating a family appeal that Mladic be placed into a hospital.

He also repeated Mladic’s call against violence by his supporters, saying the protests should be peaceful.


Dusan Stojanovic contributed.

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