Mladic 'treated for cancer in 2009'

The lawyer representing the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic has said he has a document proving the war crimes suspect has been battling cancer and was treated at a Serbian hospital in 2009.

Milos Saljic said Mladic has suffered from lymph node cancer and that he underwent surgery and chemotherapy in 2009. The lawyer showed the AP what he said was a photocopy of a doctors' diagnosis saying Mladic was in a Serbian hospital between 20 April and 18 July 2009.

Serbia handed over the wartime commander to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday after he had spent 16 years on the run. He is due to appear in court for an arraignment today.

Mr Saljic had argued that Mladic should not be extradited because of his ill health, and the general's family also had said he was in poor mental and physical condition, but a court in Belgrade dismissed the appeal and sent him to The Hague.

Nerma Jelacic, a tribunal spokeswoman, declined on to comment on Mr Saljic's claim that Mladic had cancer, and there was no way to immediately check the authenticity of the lawyer's document.

Serbia's Defence Minister, Dragan Sutanovac, accused Mr Saljic of "manipulating the public" and was sceptical about his claims. "I really don't believe in that story, but we'll investigate," the minister said.

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