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Serbia Burnishes Image In Wake Of Karadzic Arrest

  • RFE/RL

A woman holding pictures of Karadzic (top) and his army commander Ratko Mladic in the Bosnian Serb town of Pale, where hundreds gathered to pray for Karadzic on July 26

A woman holding pictures of Karadzic (top) and his army commander Ratko Mladic in the Bosnian Serb town of Pale, where hundreds gathered to pray for Karadzic on July 26

A lawyer representing captured war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic believes that a delay tactic will successfully thwart Serbia's attempts to extradite his client to a UN court before an ultranationalist rally scheduled to take place in Belgrade on July 29.

Karadzic's legal team reportedly filed an appeal to Serbia's war crimes court from a remote post office in Serbia, just ahead of the July 25 midnight deadline. Svetozar Vujacic, one of Karadzic's lawyers, told AFP that "I presume [the appeal] still didn't [arrive] because of nonworking days.

"The later, the better," he added.

But while the ploy means Karadzic's extradition will likely not take place until mid-week, at the earliest, Serbia's prime minister has sent a message that such tactics won't work for long.

Speaking to reporters in Austria ahead of a July 27 meeting of Southeast European prime ministers, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said Serbia is committed to meeting its international commitments.

Cvetkovic said that Karadzic's arrest "was in a way the proof that there is a willingness to cooperate with The Hague tribunal. And we believe that [the] cooperation with The Hague tribunal is essential for our country, because this is the demonstration that we recognize international law."

Serbian officials hope to announce on July 28 whether the appeal met the deadline.

If the appeal is accepted, a panel of judges will have three days to decide whether to accept it. If it is dismissed, as expected, the Justice Ministry will likely sign off on Karadzic's extradition to The Hague.

The 63-year-old's status as a fugitive came to an end with his arrest in Belgrade on July 21. The former Bosnian Serb wartime leader, wanted in connection with the 1992-96 shelling of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, had been on the run for over a decade.

One of his lawyers, Svetozar Vujacic, told a rally in Belgrade on July 27 that "mine and Radovan's only goal" is to prevent his extradition from taking place prior to the July 29 rally.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Cvetkovic said in Austria that, while Serbia is not expecting rewards for Karadzic's arrest, it is hoping that the European Union will make operational its association pact with Serbia.

The EU has said it wants to see other indicted war crimes suspects -- namely, Bosnian Serb wartime commander Radko Mladic -- arrested before it implements the pact.

In Salzburg on July 27, Cvetkovic gave the EU reason to believe its wish would be granted in the near future.

"Karadzic is No. 1, so if No. 1 is proof for the demonstration of our willingness," he said, "then there is no reason why we wouldn't do that for No. 2 or No. 7 or whatever."

with agency reporting
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