Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic arrived Wednesday in The Hague to await trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, after an overnight transfer from Belgrade.
Karadzic was transferred to the detention unit of the war crimes court shortly before 8.00 am local time, Nerma Jelacic, spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) says.
According to FRANCE 24’s Cyril Vanier, his first pre-trial appearance could take place 24 to 48 hours after his arrival. “No date has been set but the pre-trial will happen as soon as is practically possible,” he says.
Serbia’s justice ministry decided to hand Karadzic over to the international crimes tribunal in The Hague after an appeal apparently filed by Karadzic failed to arrive at the court.
His entourage claimed he had sent an appeal against his transfer at the last minute on Friday, but the Serbian war crimes court denied that it had arrived on time.
Karadizic has been indicted for his role in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia - notably in connection with the 44-month siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of Muslim males in Srebrenica in July 1995.
His transfer to The Hague came only hours after Serbian riot police clashed with youths in central Belgrade at the end of an ultra-nationalist rally by more than 15,000 people opposed to the arrest of Karadzic.
At least 25 police and 19 civilians, including a Spanish and a Serbian journalist, were injured in the clashes, hospital officials said.
Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the apparently drunken youths in the streets surrounding the Serbian capital's main Republican Square.
However, the demonstration had rallied far fewer people than the protests in February against the independence of Kosovo which had gathered 150,000 Serbs.
According to FRANCE 24’s Laurent Rouy in Belgrade, “this is a great failure for nationalists, a double failure because some rioters clashed with police at the end of demonstration.” The reputation of the nationalists and ultra-nationalists led by Serbia’s Radical Party has now been tarnished, he says.