Serbia appeases EU as Karadzic fights extradition
The Serbian ambassadors were recalled from those countries who recognised Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February.
The decision follows the arrest of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and removes yet another obstacle to Serbia's integration into the EU.
Karadzic’s lawyer had previously said he would lodge an appeal against his client’s extradition to The Hague at the last minute on Friday evening, sending it at 7.55pm by registered mail from a post-office in Serbia: whether or not he actually did so is not known at this moment.
Serbian nationalists are planning demonstrations for Friday in Belgrade and other cities.
Radovan Karadzic has already said he will defend himself in court, although lawyers who are close to him have offered to do the job.
“We have evidence and three witnesses who were there on July 18. Someone will have a lot of explaining to do about why they lied to us and the world public about the date of Radovan Karadzic's arrest,” said Karadzic’s lawyer, Sveta Vujacic.
Vujacic has submitted papers at court in Belgrade arguing that his client’s arrest didn’t follow correct legal procedures. He says that despite official information that Karadzic was arrested on Monday, he was detained on Friday.
Vujacic has also confirmed that the 63-year-old will conduct his own defence in court, as did former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.
The lawyer has decided to wait until the final moment to appeal Karadzic’s extradition to The Hague.
Sveta Vujacic is not only Karadzic’s lawyer but he’s also a friend of the family, who has known Karadzic for years, and he believes it is a very sad day for Serbia because the country has accused and let down another hero.
“Neither Croats nor Muslims would ever do this to their leaders. I understand it is the job of the lawyers here, but they will have to live the rest of their lives knowing they did this,” he said.
However, the view of Karadzic’s friend is not shared by everyone. The arrest of Karadzic has been mainly welcomed in the West, and even at home some hope it will enable Serbia to move forward.
“I’m been very happy he was arrested, so that our country can move forward, and our children can benefit from it. They can find out what it is to live in Europe and in a better world,” said a Belgrade citizen.
Sveta Vujacic dispelled Serbian press rumours that the former Bosnian Serb leader lived with a mistress for years in Belgrade.
Earlier, Serbia’s daily Blic, published an article featuring details of Karadzic’s life disguised as a doctor. “The guru in love”, it said, had a mysterious girlfriend, an attractive brunette in her early 40s, who accompanied him to almost every lecture he gave whilst practising alternative medicine.
Reportedly, Karadzic introduced her as Mila, a business associate in medicine.
“She escorted him to every lecture and behaved like his wife. They held hands. When we travelled and there was be no room in the car for her, he'd say he wasn't going without her,” said Tanja Jovanovic, one of the staff at Healthy Life magazine, to which Karadzic contributed articles.
One of the world’s most wanted fugitives, Karadzic is officially married to Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, who lives in their family home in the former Serbian stronghold of Pale, east of Sarajevo. She too is a psychiatrist, and is mother to the former politician's two children – a daughter and a son.
Karadzic’s family is arriving from Pale to be with him. Two of his brothers have already visited him in his detention cell.
“After all the lies you journalists say about my brother, I’m not speaking to any of you. I will speak later only to Russian journalists. Only they are not afraid to say the truth about my brother. Actually I want to know from you what happened to my brother,” said Radovan’s brother, Luka Karadzic.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s President Boris Tadic has hailed the arrest of Karadzic, saying anyone responsible for crimes in the former Yugoslavia has to face justice. He says his capture shows that those in power in Serbia respect both national and international law.
Karadzic was on the run for more than a decade before his arrest earlier this week on charges of genocide and war crimes. It's been reported that he was betrayed by people close to him.