Thousands of Croatians have gathered in the city of Split to show support for war crimes suspect General Ante Gotovina.

The demonstrators waved Croatian flags and posters of General Gotovina, who was arrested in Spain's Canary Islands on Wednesday after being on the run since 2001.

The general was extradited to the United Nations tribunal in the Hague on Saturday to face charges involving the deaths of civilians during a 1995 Croatian army sweep through a Serb-held region. He is expected to appear before the court next week.

Thousands of his supporters also gathered on Saturday in Croatia's port city of Zadar to protest his arrest. They call General Gotovina a hero who helped free Croatia from the former Yugoslavia.