Former Bosnian Serb general
Ratko Mladic, who faces a trial at a United Nations war crimes tribunal on genocide charges, may die before the proceedings open, his lawyer said Monday.
The lawyer, Milos Saljic, told reporters that he has sought an independent medical examination of Mladic, who had been on the run from justice for more than 15 years until his surprise arrest Thursday, DPA reported.
"His health is alarming, he needs an examination by a cardiologist, neurologist, an orthopaedist and a gastroenterologist," Saljic told reporters in Belgrade.
The lawyer said he was concerned that Mladic will not survive long enough to see the start of his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.
An official medical commission earlier ruled that Mladic, while ailing, is fit enough to stand the trial.
The ICTY indicted Mladic, 69, the commander of the Serb army during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, for wartime atrocities, such as the slaughter of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.
A day after his arrest, Friday, Serbian authorities cleared the way for his extradition to the ICTY. A deadline for an appeal against that ruling expires Monday. Saljic said that he will appeal.
After the court receives the appeal, it can take up to three days to rule. If it continues the extradition procedure, only the signature of Justice Minister Snezana Malovic is required for the extradition.
Thus, Mladic could be sent to The Hague as early as Monday.
The international community welcomed the arrest of the former general. But, in Serbia, many still regard him as a hero and defender of the Serbian population in Bosnia.
On Sunday evening, several thousand supporters rallied against the arrest and the pending extradition. The protest turned violent, leading to 180 arrests and the hospitalization of 32 policemen.