Serbs say Karadzic shouldn’t be tried in The Hague

The majority of Serbs think Radovan Karadzic, who's accused of war crimes, shouldn't be handed over to the UN tribunal in The Hague. According to a survey by the Belgrade Strategic Research Institute, 86% of Serbs say th

Thousands have protested in Serb towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina against the arrest of Radovan Karadzic. Many were carrying Serbian flags and wearing T-shirts praising him as a hero. In Pale, demonstrators lit candles and said prayers. The wartime leader is expected to be extradited next week to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Some protesters accused the West of bias in only pursuing Serb veterans of the decade-long ethnic and religious conflict.

The President of the Serb Democratic Party, Mladen Bosić, said the rallies were also dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the war.

Karadzic was arrested on Monday in the Serbian capital of Belgrade after 13 years on the run.

He faces eleven charges, including genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide, for allegedly masterminding the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

Karadzic’s judges appointed

The Chairman of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Fausto Pocar, has named the three judges who'll oversee the trial of Radovan Karadzic on war crimes charges. They are Alphons Orie (presiding judge), Christine Van Den Wyngaert and Bakone Moloto.

Deadline for appeal passes

Meanwhile, the deadline has expired for Karadzic to appeal against his extradition to The Hague. His lawyer said he posted the appeal at the last minute as a delaying tactic. He predicted Karadzic would not be transferred to the Netherlands until Wednesday.

However, Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic says Karadzic could be in The Hague as early as Monday evening.

The accused’s laywer Svetozar Vujacic has submitted papers to a 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.

“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,” Vujacic said. 

Family denied

The family of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic have been banned from going to Belgrade to see their relative. The travel ban was put in place earlier this year at the request of the UN tribunal.

Police confiscated the travel documents of Karadzic's wife Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, son Aleksandar, daughter Sonja and son-in-law Branislav Jovicic because of suspicions they helped the former wartime leader avoid capture for more than a decade. 

European Union high representative for Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak said: “The family of Karadzic will have plenty of time in the next few years to see Radovan, but families of the victims of the Bosnian war from Srebrenica and other places will not see their dearest ever again.”  

However, two of Karadzic’s brothers have visited him in his Belgrade cell.

Speaking exclusively to RT in Belgrade, Luka Karadzic said the resurgence of Russia might help in the case.  He said a strong Russia meant a strong Serbia, which could influence how the case was handled in The Hague.

Representing himself

Radovan Karadzic has already said he will defend himself in court, although lawyers close to him have offered to do the job.

It has been suggested he’ll try and drag the proceedings out until 2010, when the UN court’s mandate expires.

Identity theft

Meanwhile, journalists have tracked down the ‘real’ Dragan Dabic, under whose identity Karadzic had been living for years.

He is a 66-year-old construction worker from Ruma, a town north of Belgrade.

After his arrest, it emerged that Karadzic had been working in Belgrade as an alternative medicine expert. He gave lectures on the subject, handed out business cards and even had his won website – indicating he felt his disguise was very secure.

Grave charges

Radovan Karadzic, aged 63, has been charged with genocide and war crimes during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.  He is accused of orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 and organizing the shelling of Sarajevo, which killed about 12,000 people.

Serbia’s President Boris Tadic has welcomed his capture, 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.

EU connection

Serbia's new government is to reinstate the ambassadors it withdrew from EU countries that recognised Kosovo’s independence. Belgrade believes the move will speed up its bid to join the European club. The Serbian ambassadors were recalled from those countries who recognised Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February.

Earlier Brussels had warned Serbia that it couldn’t join the EU unless it handed over the war crimes suspect.

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.