THOUSANDS OF people are expected to attend rallies organised by ultra-nationalists in Belgrada, Serbia, today to protest the arrest and extradition of suspected war criminal Ratko Mladic.
On Friday, a judge ruled that Mladic was fit to stand trial at The Hague and could be extradited to the court in the Netherlands. His lawyers have until tomorrow to lodge an appeal, and have argued that his health is not good enough for him to travel and face trial.
Mladic had been on the run for 16 years before being arrested by Serbian authorities in an early morning raid at a small village on Thursday. His lawyer Milos Saljic says that he doesn’t know how soon Mladic could be extradicted, but says the former Serbian general says he would like “to recover a little bit first” and is “in a kind of confusion”.
Serbia’s president, Boris Tadic, has said that anyone who protected Mladic from discovery and arrest would also be prosecuted.
Security in Belgrade has been stepped up for today’s rally, which is set to gather outside the parliament. Right-wing groups urged their supports to attend the rally organised by the Serbian Radical Party.
Police chief Ivica Dacic said: “Additional attention has been focused on the extremist groups these days. We are taken measures to prevent the escalation of extremist behaviour”.
Mladic’s lawyer Saljic said that his client had made a public appeal against violence in his name. “He does not want to be the cause of unrest,” Saljic said.
- Additional reporting by the AP