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Karadzic puts in last-minute appeal

Latest update : 2008-07-26

Genocide suspect Radovan Karadzic's lawyers posted a last-minute appeal against his transfer to the UN war crimes tribunal. Lack of information about the proceedings is "part of the defence strategy", said his lawyer.

Radovan Karadzic's bid to dodge trial for war crimes was literally in the mail Saturday after his lawyers sent off an appeal at the last possible minute against his transfer to a UN tribunal.
  
The appeal was posted by regular mail just before an overnight deadline expired, "so that it cannot be immediately forwarded to the war crimes court" in Serbia, said Svetozar Vujacic, a lawyer representing the indicted Bosnian Serb wartime leader, quoted by the Politika newspaper.
  
"Depriving the public of information about (the appeal) is part of the defence strategy," Vujacic was quoted as saying earlier by Tanjug news agency.
  
Once it receives the appeal, a three-judge panel of Serbia's war crimes court will have three days to decide on its merits before the justice ministry must issue the final order for the transfer.
  
Karadzic, 63, indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was arrested Monday whist riding on a suburban bus in Belgrade.
  
Together with his military commander Ratko Mladic, who remains at large, he has been one of the most-wanted fugitives connected with the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  
Whilst in hiding, Karadzic completely changed his appearance and identity, styling himself as Doctor Dragan Dabic and donning large wire-rimmed glasses and a white Panama hat atop his long white hair and bushy beard.
  
Behind his alter ego -- an identity stolen from a pensioner in northern Serbia -- Karadzic had most recently been hiding out in the heart of the Serbian capital.
  
In the New Belgrade neighbourhood, people who crossed paths with him expressed disbelief the genocide suspect freely roamed their part of town under heavy disguise.
  
Ahead of the transfer appeal deadline, reports emerged that Karadzic even went on escapades as far away as Austria and Italy under at least one other identity, Petar, to treat Serb patients using "human quantum energy."
  
If his appeal against transfer to the ICTY fails, Karadzic could be sent off to the tribunal in The Hague -- where he intends to act as his own defence lawyer -- as early as next week.
  
The delaying tactic could nevertheless give his Bosnia-based family, including wife Ljiljana and daughter Sonja, time to get back confiscated travel papers and see him before he goes.
  
Karadzic slipped into hiding in 1996, the year after the ICTY indicted him notably in connection with the 44-month siege of Sarajevo which killed more than 10,000 people and the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
  
His arrest -- greeted with celebration in Sarajevo -- improved the prospects of Serbia joining the European Union, which has set Belgrade's cooperation with the ICTY as a precondition for membership talks.
  
But it also raised the hackles of hardline Serb nationalists such as Vjerica Radeta of the Serbian Radical Party, who this week pointed an accusing finger at President Boris Tadic, who favours rapprochement with the West.
  
"We point out to Tadic that treason is never forgiven in Serbia," Radeta told a press conference on Friday.

Date created : 2008-07-26

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