Police: Mladic captured in a routine raid
Serbian war criminal's son says his father suffered two strokes while on the run, has a partially paralyzed right hand and can barely speak. Prosecution: Health issue used as a delay tactic. After his arrest, Mladic requests strawberries, Tolstoy novels, asks to visit Belgrade grave of daughter who killed herself in 1994
Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic says he's innocent of war crimes charges that include orchestrating some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, the suspect's son said Friday after visiting the former fugitive in jail.
"His stand is that he's not guilty of what he's being accused of," Darko Mladictold reporters.
After spending a night in jail, Mladic was due back in a Belgrade court for a second hearing on his extradition to the UN tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands on charges that include directing the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, and involvement in the relentless four-year siege of Sarajevo.
His son said Mladic suffered two strokes while on the run, has a partially paralyzed right hand and can barely speak.
Mladic after being captured on Thursday (Photo: Reuters)
Serbian war crimes prosecutors say the health issue appeared to be a tactic to delay Mladic's extradition. A tribunal spokeswoman said from The Hague that it was capable of dealing with any health problems.
Mladic told reporters after visiting his father in jail that "We will ask that he be transferred to a hospital." He said the family was demanding that Russian doctors examine Mladic to guarantee the impartiality of any medical assessment. Russian has traditionally supported Serbia in conflicts with the West.
Decade and a half on the run
A police photo of Mladic showed him looking hollow-cheeked and shrunken after a decade and a half on the run, a far cry from the beefy commander accused of personally orchestrating some of the worst horrors of the Balkan wars.
The photo taken moments after his arrest in a tiny northern Serbian village shows a clean-shaven Mladic with thinning hair and wearing a navy blue baseball hat. He looks up with wide eyes, as if in surprise.
A Thursday extradition hearing was adjourned after the judge cut short the questioning because Mladic's "poor physical state" left him unable to communicate, defense lawyer Milos Saljic said.
State TV showed Mladic walking haltingly into the closed-door extradition hearing. Saljic said Mladic needed medical care and "should not be moved in such a state."
Deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric said that Mladic, 69, is taking a lot of medicine, but "responds very rationally to everything that is going on," and extradition proceedings should take no more than a week.
"What's important is that his identity has been established," Vekaric said. "It now depends on his defense whether they will launch appeals, but the maximum deadline for his extradition is a week."
Mladic was captured in a routine raid as he headed out to his garden for a pre-dawn walk, three Serbian police officials told The Associated Press on Friday.
The officials said they had no specific intelligence indicating that Mladic was in the house, which belonged to a relative, before they burst into four houses in the village of Lazarevo simultaneously.
Police had not previously raided the village, but have been conducting similar operations throughout Serbia for years in the hunt for Mladic.
They said Mladic identified himself immediately Thursday morning, speaking in a whisper, and was carrying two pistols that he handed over to police.
Mladic was taken to a jail cell at Serbia's war-crimes court where, a judicial official told the AP, he was given strawberries Friday after requesting them along with Leo Tolstoy novels and a television set. It wasn't immediately clear if he'd also been given the books and TV.
The judicial official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation said Mladic had also asked to visit the Belgrade grave of his daughter Ana, who killed herself in 1994.
The operation to arrest Mladic began around 5 am Thursday with four white jeeps carrying about two dozen masked special Serbian policemen into Lazarevo, a remote northern Serbian village. Most of its 2,000 people were still asleep.
Mladic was awake inside a yellow brick house with a rusty white fence, unable to sleep because his body ached from ailments he has suffered over the 16 years he had spent on the run from justice, the officials said.
Serbian officials said no one will pick up the $10 million (7 million euro) reward for Mladic's arrest because police were not acting on a tip when they arrested him.
One of the world's most-wanted fugitives, Mladic was the top commander of the Bosnian Serb army during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, which killed more than 100,000 people and drove another 1.8 million from their homes. Thousands of Muslims and Croats were killed, tortured or driven out in a campaign to purge the region of non-Serbs.
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