A Serbian student wanted in New York on assault charges signed a contract with a Serbian basketball team, a news agency said.

Belgrade's private Beta news agency said Tuesday that Miladin Kovacevic signed the contract to play for KK Vrbas, a team that plays in a regional Serbian league.

"The club today signed a contract with Kovacevic, and he's now our registered player," Vrbas captain Bojan Markovic was quoted as saying by Beta.

Kovacevic, 20, had been recruited to play basketball for Binghamton University in northern New York state, but fled the United States in early June after being charged in the severe beating of Bryan Steinhauer, of Brooklyn, during a May 4 bar fight.

Kovacevic's refusal to return to the United States to face charges has sparked a diplomatic issue between Serbia and U.S. officials demanding his return.

Serbian law does not allow him to be extradited, and Serb officials have suggested U.S. authorities hand over the full case file so they can consider whether Kovacevic should be prosecuted in Serbia.

Steinhauer, 22, remains in critical condition.

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