Image:  Miladin Kovacevic
Djordje Kojadinovic  /  Reuters file
Former Binghamton University student Miladin Kovacevic leaves central prison in Belgrade on Dec. 19. The Belgrade District Court has released Kovacevic from custody and has granted him bail, his lawyer said on Friday.
updated 2/24/2009 6:38:50 AM ET 2009-02-24T11:38:50

A senior Serbian justice official says his country's courts are capable of trying the student charged with beating an American classmate last year.

Justice official Slobodan Homen says the case of Miladin Kovacevic has strained "complete diplomatic relations" between the United States and Serbia.

The 22-year-old former basketball player at Binghampton University allegedly severely beat classmate Bryan Steinhauer last May in upstate New York. Kovacevic fled to Serbia in June to avoid a U.S. trial.

The official says negotiations between Washington and Belgrade on the dispute are "near conclusion." He also told B92 radio on Tuesday that he is convinced Kovacevic will be tried in Serbia.

Belgrade has refused to return the fugitive student saying its laws ban extradition.

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