As he awaited extradition to a UN tribunal, jailed war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic has been allowed to visit the grave of his daughter who committed suicide during Bosnia's war.
Mladic left his jail cell to make the early-morning visit under tight security, including several armoured vehicles, said Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric. Mladic is expected to be extradited to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, late today or early tomorrow.
"We didn't announce his visit to the grave because it is his private thing and because it represented a security risk," Mr Vekaric said. "The operation lasted for 20 minutes and passed without a glitch."
Europe's most wanted war crimes fugitive was arrested on Thursday in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run. Mladic is charged by the tribunal for atrocities committed by his Serb troops during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
His 23-year-old daughter Ana committed suicide in 1994 with her father's pistol. Media reports at the time said she did it because of depression caused by her father's role in the war. Mladic has always claimed she was killed by his wartime enemies.
Today, Mladic visited the red marble grave with a cross at a graveyard on a hill in a Belgrade suburb. There, he left a lit candle and a small white bouquet of flowers with a red rose in the middle.
Mladic's lawyer said yesterday he has formally filed an appeal against the former general's extradition - a move that will likely delay his handover to The Hague until Tuesday night or early Wednesday. Attorney Milos Saljic also has asked for a battery of doctors to examine the 69-year-old Mladic, who is said to have suffered at least two strokes.
Mr Saljic said he sent his appeal from an unidentified post office in Belgrade on Monday. Court officials will now need to wait for it to arrive and review it before ruling on the appeal.
Mr Vekaric accused Mladic of using delaying tactics and said nothing should prevent his extradition to tribunal. The prosecutor said today no-one will be informed when Mladic will be transported from his prison and flown to the Netherlands "because of security risks".
Yesterday, Serbian President Boris Tadic rejected speculation that authorities had known of Mladic's hiding place and delayed his arrest to coincide with a visit by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The rumours have persisted because Mladic was found living not far from the capital, Belgrade, with relatives who share his last name.