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30 Jul, 2008 14:21

Karadzic extradited to The Hague

The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has arrived at the international criminal court detention centre in The Hague. He is expected to appear before a judge on Thursday.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, Serge Brammertz, has told reporters that Serbian authorities deserve full credit for arresting Radovan Karadzic.

“The arrest of Radovan Karadzic is immensely important for the victims who had to wait far too long for this day. It is also important for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that there is no alternative to the arrest of war criminals and that there can be no safe haven for fugitives,” he said.

Karadzic is accused of being the mastermind behind the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when around 8,000 Muslims were killed.

At the detention centre, Karadzic will have his identity confirmed and will be informed of his rights.

Meanwhile, a group of lawyers from the Greek island of Crete plan to visit the former Bosnian Serb leader in jail. They're offering to defend him free of charge.

This follows a night of violence when  around 15,000 Serb nationalists have turned out to rally in Belgrade against the extradition of Karadzic. At first peaceful, the demonstration took a violent turn on Tuesday evening when a group of protestors clashed with police.

The rally was nearly over when a group of protestors attacked police with stones. Riot police responded with tear gas rubber bullets.

The leaders of the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic and Alexander Bucic, addressed the crowd in an attempt to calm down the people.

Meanwhile, Serbian President Boris Tadic ordered police to disperse the crowd as soon as possible to prevent serious violence.

Part of the American Embassy and a number of shops and restaurants in central Belgrade were destroyed in the turmoil.

Police were able to restore control but the situation remains tense and any trigger may be enough for protests to resume.

The demo was organised by a right-wing party that has gathered support from across Serbia.

Since Karadzic's arrest there have been daily demonstrations against his detainment, but this was the first display on such a huge scale.

Prior to the demonstration an independent poll found that 54% of Serbs were against Karadzic’s extradition.

Georgy Engelgardt, a political analyst and an expert on the Balkans from the Moscow Institute of Slavic Studies, told RT that Radovan Karadzic is a kind of national symbol for a huge part of the Serbian population.