Angry Serb nationalists protest Karadzic arrest
Angry Serb nationalists protest Karadzic arrest
By JOVANA GEC, Associated Press Writer 53 minutes ago
BELGRADE, Serbia - Serb nationalists skirmished with riot police in the capital Tuesday, lashing out against the new Western-leaning government that captured war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.
Karadzic's lawyer vowed to appeal Serbia's plan to extradite the former Bosnian Serb chief to a U.N. war crimes court.
Riot police deployed in downtown Belgrade to keep about 200 members of the extremist Obraz group under control. The demonstrators threw stones and clay pots at the officers, chanting "treason!" and trying to break through police cordons.
Five demonstrators and a policeman were injured, doctors at Belgrade emergency clinic said.
"This is a hard day for Serbia," said Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, adding that Karadzic was "a legend of the Serbian people."
Nikolic vowed his party will do "all in its power" to topple the pro-Western government.
In the village of Petnjica, where Karadzic was born, a relative of the wartime Bosnian Serb leader, Vukosav Karadzic, said he was "sorry he did not kill himself but allowed himself to be captured."
Serb officials say they arrested Karadzic Monday evening near Belgrade after more than a decade on the run. The war crime suspect had grown a long white beard to conceal his identity and had lived freely in the capital before being arrested.
"His false identity was very convincing," said Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia's war crimes prosecutor who coordinated the security forces arrest. "He had moved freely in public places."
Karadzic is sought on 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war. The psychiatrist-turned-Serbian-nationalist is accused of masterminding the deadly wartime siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 executions of some 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica.
While on the run in Serbia, the world's top war crimes fugitive worked at a private alternative medicine clinic and wrote for a Belgrade magazine, according to Serbian officials. Karadzic also lectured about meditation at a May festival in Belgrade.
To do all this, Karadzic used an alias, Dragan Dabic, government minister Rasim Ljajic said at a press conference Tuesday. He displayed a recent photo of an unrecognizable Karadzic with long white beard and hair.
Ljajic refused to reveal more details about the arrest, saying Karadzic's movements were being analyzed to help track down another war crimes suspect, Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic. Serbian security services found Karadzic, 63, while looking for Mladic, he said.
Karadzic was questioned early Tuesday by a Serbian judge who later ruled that he can be handed over to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Vukcevic said.
Karadzic has three days to appeal. His lawyer, Sveta Vujacic, said he will fight extradition on the last day, Friday, to thwart authorities' desire for an immediate transfer.
Karadzic's arrest appeared to be linked to a change in political will.
Serbian President Boris Tadic's pro-Western government came to power only two weeks ago and appointed a new security chief, replacing an aide to former nationalist prime minister Vojislav Kostunica.
Liberal politician Nenad Canak said Kostunica and his nationalist allies had protected Karadzic and Mladic for years.
That assessment matched comments from the former U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke.
Karadzic "was protected by people who knew who he was," Holbrooke told CNN on Tuesday. "NATO did not make an all-out effort to capture him at the beginning, in 1996, which was a terrible mistake. They knew exactly where he was.
"And then he slipped away and he was sheltered by people."
There was no immediate comment from Kostunica to Karadzic's arrest.
European Union foreign ministers said the arrest helped Serbia's bid for EU membership, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called it a "historic moment."
"The victims need to know: Massive human rights violations do not go unpunished," she said in Berlin.
Karadzic's whereabouts had been a mystery since he went on the run in 1998, with his early hideouts reportedly including monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.
Karadzic's family in Bosnia, banned from leaving the country over suspicions they helped him elude capture, asked Tuesday to have the restrictions lifted, his daughter told The Associated Press.
Sonja Karadzic said family members want to spend at least a few hours with Karadzic before his transfer to U.N. custody.
"For years we have not seen our father, husband and grandfather; my mother's health is not very good, and we do not have the financial means necessary to travel to Netherlands," she said.
Once he is extradited to The Hague court, Karadzic will become the second most important defendant ever at the tribunal custody. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic also was tried for genocide but died of a heart attack in 2006.
Karadzic is accused of orchestrating the worst massacre of Bosnia's war, when Serb troops overran the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica and slaughtered thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys.
Karadzic is also linked to the 3 1/2-year siege of Sarajevo, when Bosnian Serb troops starved, sniped and bombarded the city from hills high above it. Residents were kept alive by a thin lifeline of food and supplies provided by U.N. donors and peacekeepers.
The siege lasted from 1992 to February 1996. An estimated 10,000 people died.
By the time the Bosnian war ended in late 1995, an estimated 250,000 people were dead and another 1.8 million driven from their homes.
Associated Press writers Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade; Radul Radovanovic in Pale, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Predrag Milic in Podgorica, Montenegro; Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands; and Robert Wielaard in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.