BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia's police chief said Friday that a Serbian basketball player who fled the United States after a bar brawl will not be handed over to the United States, despite a request from two U.S. senators.
Miladin Kovacevic was detained Tuesday in Belgrade on suspicion of inflicting "life-threatening bodily harm" on Bryan Steinhauer during the fight in a bar in upstate New York last May.
Kovacevic, who played basketball for Binghamton University, jumped bail after being charged with assault in the U.S. The 22-year-old Steinhauer only recently emerged from a coma.
Serbia has refused to hand Kovacevic over to the U.S. for a trial on assault charges, saying its laws do not allow it. The case has strained relations between the two countries.
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats from New York, praised Serbia for detaining Kovacevic but also demanded he be handed over to the U.S. for trial.
Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, in charge of the Balkan country's police force, said Friday that Kovacevic will be tried in Serbia, not in the United States.
"Our legal system does not allow extradition of Serbia's citizens," Dacic said.
It was not immediately clear if or when Kovacevic, 21, would be formally charged in Serbia. An investigative judge ordered him to remain in prison for at least 30 days pending a formal investigation.