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Karadzic supporters turn out as transfer drags on

©

Latest update : 2008-07-24

Posters supporting Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic appeared in Visegrad, Bosnia on Thursday, as he awaits transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal. Karadzic was long wanted for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Read the FRANCE 24 article 'Residents remain loyal in Karadzic's former territory'.

 

 

With war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic finally in custody, Serbia came under increased pressure Thursday to capture his fugitive wartime military chief Ratko Mladic, also wanted for genocide.
   
"The Serbs are making a step forward in closing an ugly chapter in their past, and I just hope that Mladic is next," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Singapore during an Asian tour.
   
Karadzic, disguised under flowing white locks of hair and thick beard, was arrested while riding a suburban bus in Belgrade on Monday night.
   
He is set to be moved to the UN war crimes court in the next few days despite mounting a legal challenge against the transfer from his prison cell in the Serbian capital.
   
The wartime Bosnian Serb leader intends to defend himself in the trial, raising concerns of a chaotic, marathon case like that of his former ally, Slobodan Milosevic, who died in detention at The Hague-based tribunal in 2006.
   
Karadzic, 63, had gone into hiding the year after he was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1995 together with Mladic, 65.
   
Both face charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, willful killing, persecutions, deportation and inhumane acts against Muslims, Croats and other non-Serb civilians during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.
   
As more details emerged about the fake life Karadzic led as a guru healer to avoid being caught during more than a decade on the run, Rice said his arrest was a major "step forward for Serbia."
   
"It showed tremendous will on the part of this new Serbian government, and I just hope there will be accelerated efforts" to help Belgrade in its bid for integration into the European Union, Rice said on a tour of Asia.
   
"As most of Europe was moving forward after the Cold War, the Balkans of course fell into extreme darkness. This is one more step to an end to that great nightmare," she added.
   
Paddy Ashdown, the UN's representative in Bosnia between May 2002 and January 2006, said Karadzuc's arrest meant the net was probably closing in on Mladic.
   
"He's now completely isolated. My guess is his days must be numbered," Ashdown said.
   
Full cooperation with the ICTY is the European Union's main pre-condition for Serbia's EU accession bid, and several bloc members oppose any advancement of its integration until the two remaining fugitives are caught.
   
The think-tank International Crisis Group on Thursday warned Brussels against rewarding Belgrade for Karadzic's arrest until Mladic and Croatian Serb war crimes fugitive Goran Hadzic are sent to The Hague.
   
Karadzic's "arrest reinforces what has been known all along -- that Belgrade knows where the remaining war crimes suspects are and can arrest them whenever it wishes," said the ICG's James Lyon.
   
"The government should take advantage of the momentum and arrest the last two remaining indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, by the end of this year," the analyst said in a commentary on the ICG website.
   
"Until it does so, the European Union should hold off on offering concessions or incentives."
   
Meanwhile, Serbian police launched an investigation into the network that helped Karadzic remain at large for so long, thanks to his new identity as a long-haired alternative medicine practitioner.
   
Karadzic had assumed the identity of Dragan Dabic, an individual who was still alive, the interior ministry said in a report by state-run news agency Tanjug.
   
"His advantage compared with Mladic, who was seen in Belgrade in recent years, is that he obtained the false identity obviously at the time when his ... friends were in power," Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said in an interview with the daily Vecernje Novosti.
   
In addition to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, Karadzic and Mladic are jointly accused of orchestrating the siege of the Bosnian capital, which claimed more than 10,000 lives.
   
Karadzic's lawyer, Svetozar Vujacic, confirmed on Wednesday he would file an appeal against his client's transfer to the ICTY at the last minute, to drag out the process.
   
That could give his Bosnia-based family, including wife Ljiljana and daughter Sonja, enough time to fulfill their wish to get back confiscated travel papers and see him before his likely transfer early next week.

Date created : 2008-07-24

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