BELGRADE, Serbia – Ratko Mladic's family plans to visit him this week at a U.N. war crimes detention unit in the Netherlands where he is awaiting a genocide trial for atrocities committed by Serb troops during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, his Serbian lawyer said Monday.
Milos Saljic denied a Serbian newspaper report that Mladic has threatened to start a hunger strike and stop taking his medicine in his prison cell in The Hague because of requests he has made regarding family visits and the financing of his defense team.
In The Hague, tribunal spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic told The Associated Press that Mladic is entitled under the court's rules to choose his own legal team, have visits from his family and receive all necessary medical care. Jalacic also said there has been no Mladic hunger strike.
The former Bosnian Serb army commander was extradited from Serbia to The Hague on Tuesday after being captured following 16 years on the run as Europe's top suspect. He was arrested in a northern Serbian village where he lived with a relative.
Saljic said that Mladic's wife, Bosiljka, and his son, Darko, will be issued passports on Monday, then travel to the Hague later in the week. Saljic, Mladic's longtime friend, said the family is in constant contact with Mladic.
"The family believes his treatment in the tribunal is all right for now," he told the AP.
Saljic has said Mladic suffered a series of illnesses while in hiding, including cancer and at least two strokes.
Saljic said that Mladic has not yet chosen his defense team. The lawyer said the family is still working on this because "it is not something you decide abruptly. It is a serious matter."
Serbian media said Mladic's family is negotiating with several Russian defense attorneys.
Mladic has been charged with orchestrating the massacre in 1995 of some 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica — Europe's worst atrocity against civilians since World War II. Mladic also is accused for holding Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, under a three-year shelling siege.
About 100,000 people died during the Bosnian war and millions were left homeless.