27 Jul 2008

Karadzic lawyers attempt to delay extradition

10:45 am on 27 July 2008

Lawyers for the captured former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic say they have filed an appeal against his transfer to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The lawyers say they sent the document from a remote part of Serbia minutes before an official deadline to appeal against extradition on genocide and other charges expired.

The BBC reports there is no official confirmation of the appeal, and Serbian authorities must find the appeal notice and consider it. Any appeal is expected to fail and Mr Karadzic is likely to be sent to The Hague within days.

The 63-year-old, who is indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was arrested in Belgrade on Monday, having evaded capture for more than a decade.

He had been posing as an expert in alternative medicine, using the name of Dragan Dabic.

The United Nations says Mr Karadzic's forces killed up to 8000 Bosnian men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995 as part of a campaign to "terrorise and demoralise the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat population".

He was also charged over the shelling of Sarajevo, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995.

Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, said the former Bosnian Serb leader had "walked around freely, even appeared in public places. The people who rented him the apartment did not know his true identity".

He gave public lectures and was a regular contributor to a magazine called Healthy Life, according to its editor Goran Kojic.

He said Karadzic was a "highly cultured man", "very tolerant", "very intellectual" and "a great person".

Mr Kojic added that he never talked politics with Mr Karadzic. Their conversations were limited to health.

Mr Karadzic was last seen in public in eastern Bosnia in 1996, and was previously thought to have hidden in Serb-controlled parts of Bosnia, as well as in Montenegro and Serbia.

His arrest is one of the main conditions of Serbian progress towards European Union membership.

The United States and European Union have urged Serbia to follow up the arrest of Karadzic by apprehending his wartime commander Ratko Mladic as quickly as possible.

Karadzic was a close ally of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who was himself extradited to The Hague tribunal in 2001, but died in 2006, shortly before a verdict was due to be delivered in his case.

Former United States assistant secretary of state for Europe, Richard Holbrooke, welcomed his capture, describing him as the "Osama bin Laden of Europe".