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At least 10,000 rally round Karadzic

Latest update : 2008-07-29

Hardline Serbian nationalists demonstrated in support of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic on Tuesday while his legal team tried to block his extradition to the International Criminal Court.


At least 10,000 people were reported to be present at a rally organised by Serbia’s radical opposition party in support for genocide suspect Radovan Karadzic, who is to be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “As things stand, the rally is a failure,” said Laurent Rouy, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Belgrade. “The organisers were expecting half a million people.”


The radical Serb party SRS has been organising rallies in favour of the ex-Bosnian-Serb chief. The rallies also provide an occasion to protest against pro-European President Boris Tadic. Karadzic, arrested last week, is accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for his role in the Bosnian war (1992 – 1995). He will stand trial in particular for the Srebenica massacre, which left 8000 Bosnian Muslims dead.


“Nationalist paraphernalia was largely present at the rally in the form of flags, uniforms and Karadzic portraits,” reported Rouy. No serious incident has been reported, but one could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. AFP reported that around 100 to 150 aggressive young people showed up with a portrait of Karadzic and a gigantic Serbian flag.  “We will kill you all,” proclaimed a banner, while another read “Boric Tadic, Serbia prepares for a funeral – yours.”


“Serbian ultranationalists feel betrayed that one of them has been handed over to Serbian authorities,” explained Laurent Rouy. He also stated that more than 70% of Serbs are in favour of cooperating with the International Criminal Court, while only 42% support Karadzic’s transfer.


Rouy believes that the low support for Karadzic’s transfer is a general confusion about the International Crimes court amidst the population. Many Serbs fail to understand why the international courts acquitted non-Serbs who committed war crimes against the Serbian population during the Bosnian war.


Boris Tadic’s government wants the transfer to take place as soon as possible, said Rouy, so that the EU is assured of Serbia’s full cooperation, which would entail economic partnerships. However, Brussels turned a deaf ear to Olli Rehn, European Commissioner in charge of expansion, who pleaded for better economic partnerships with Serbia after Karadzic’s arrest. On Tuesday, diplomats from the EU member states decided not to tackle the subject until Karadzic was in The Hague.



Date created : 2008-07-29