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Medical team says Mladic OK for extradition

From the CNN Wire Staff
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Mladic to face extradition
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mladic requests Russian books in his cell -- and strawberries
  • A medical team that examines Mladic finds no immediate problems
  • Mladic is "a ruin of a man," his attorney says
  • Mladic was wanted on charges of genocide, extermination and murder

Belgrade, Serbia (CNN) -- A medical team in Serbia has determined that war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic is in good enough shape to be extradited to face a war crimes tribunal, a court spokeswoman in Belgrade said Friday.

While Mladic suffers from several chronic conditions, the team said there are no immediate problems barring a move. This comes after five doctors examined Mladic Thursday night, said Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic.

"The court decided that conditions for extradition have been met," court spokeswoman Maya Kovacevic said.

The determination was made during a deportation hearing Friday, held to decide whether Mladic will be transferred to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

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Mladic refused to make any statement before the court, but Saljic said the Mladic team will appeal. That appeal could come by Monday.

Asked how soon the judge would rule on the appeal, Kovacevic answered, "immediately."

Mladic's son, Darko, said his father has trouble speaking and his right arm is partially paralyzed.

"We saw him for the first time in many years. He's in bad shape," Darko Mladic said to reporters in front of the courthouse. "His health is very deteriorated."

He said the family is asking the court to send Mladic to a hospital for treatment and analysis and wants Russian doctors to examine him. His father is not guilty of the grave charges against him, insisted Darko Mladic.

But Bruno Vekaric, the deputy prosecutor of Serbia's Special Court for War Crimes, dismissed the family's account of Mladic's health as a defense ploy.

"He's like a young man," Vekaric said. "He's not so ill or in a bad situation."

Mladic's right arm seemed to be bothering him, but he was fine Friday, Vekaric said.

Mladic refused to read the indictment against him, telling the judge, "I don't want to read the papers of the tribunal," according to Vekaric.

An angry Mladic accused Vekaric of being a CIA agent but apologized Friday, the deputy prosecutor said. He asked Vekaric for a few books by Russian authors Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Gogol. He also made one other request, one that the prosecutor found odd coming from the man once known as the "Butcher of Bosnia."

"He asked for strawberries," Vekaric said, laughing.

Mladic is in a jail near Belgrade facing charges that he presided over Europe's worst massacre since World War II. He was arrested Thursday after more than 15 years in hiding.

Mladic was the highest-ranking fugitive to remain at large after the conflicts that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Saljic described Mladic as a "ruin of a man" who has suffered two heart attacks and three strokes since 1996.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said Serbian authorities are still investigating who aided Mladic during his decade and a half on the run, but he called allegations that the country's military sheltered him "rubbish."

"At the end of the day, he was protected by a very small group of people from his family," Tadic said. He acknowledged that Mladic may have been aided by military officers early on, "but at the end of that process, I don't believe that."

The former Yugoslav army officer was the commanding general of Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has charged him with leading a genocidal campaign against Bosnia's Muslim and Croat populations, including "direct involvement" in the 1995 killings of nearly 8,000 men and boys in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica -- the worst European massacre since the Holocaust.

However, Mladic remains a hero to some Serbs, and small outbursts of anger in reaction to his arrest were seen in Belgrade late Thursday.

CNN's Ivan Watson, Richard Allen Greene, Joe Sterling, Moni Basu and Lateef Mungin, and journalist Branko Cecen contributed to this report.

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