- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2011

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The lawyer for war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic said on Monday that he formally had filed an appeal against the former general’s detention — a move that likely will delay Mr. Mladic’s extradition for at least a day.

Milos Saljic, Mr. Mladic’s lawyer, also asked for a battery of doctors to examine the 69-year-old Mr. Mladic, who was arrested last week after 16 years on the run and is said to have suffered at least two strokes. Mr. Saljic said Monday that the former general is so ill he won’t live to see the start of his trial on genocide charges.

Mr. Saljic said he had mailed his appeal from an unspecified post office in Belgrade on Monday. Court officials now will need to wait for it and review it before moving forward with the case.

But Bruno Vekaric, Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor, said that Mr. Mladic is employing delaying tactics and that nothing should prevent his extradition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The U.N. tribunal charged Mr. 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 World War II.

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.

On Sunday, protesters hurled stones and bottles in clashes with baton-wielding riot police in Belgrade after several thousand nationalist supporters of Mr. 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 to policemen. The relatively low number of arrests and injured people amounted to a victory for the pro-Western government, which arrested Mr. 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 center of the capital.

The clashes began after a rally that drew at least 7,000 demonstrators, many singing nationalist songs and carrying banners honoring Mr. Mladic. Some chanted right-wing slogans, and a few gave Nazi salutes.

The demonstrators, who consider Mr. Mladic a hero, said Serbia should not hand him over to the U.N. court in The Hague.

Demonstrators demanded the ouster of Serbian President Boris Tadic, who ordered Mr. Mladic‘s arrest. A sign on the stage read, “Tadic is not Serbia.”

Nationalists are furious that the Serbian government apprehended Mr. Mladic after nearly 16 years on the run. He was caught at a relative’s home in a northern Serbian village.

Dusan Stojanovic and Danica Kirka contributed to this article.

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