Serb radicals rally around Karadzic
Further delay in his extradition to the UN war crimes tribunal, where he faces 11 charges including genocide, could undermine President Tadic's pro-Europe government.
Jurists at the Hague tribunal are carefully reviewing the 11 indictments against Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, as they await his imminent extradition. But in Serbia, Mr. Karadzic's legal team is delaying his departure by using evasive tactics and stalling methods reminiscent of the Bosnian Serb leader's dealings with peacekeepers and Western diplomats during the war itself, experts say.Skip to next paragraph
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The current technical delay on Karadzic further plays into an overall effort by hard-line nationalists to block the new government's pro-Europe plans by fomenting popular anger, protests, and destabilization in Belgrade, Serbia's politically and emotionally divided capital.
President Boris Tadic's government is trying to show meticulous regard for law and due process in extraditing Karadzic. But the issue has become highly sensitive in a country that by a narrow margin is pushing to join Europe – but where the extent of Balkan war crimes and Serb aggression in the 1990s has not been fully acknowledged.
"The radicals are pushing for a real confrontation over Karadzic," says James Lyon of the International Crisis Group in Belgrade. "They want to drag this out ... see how much popular anger they can stir. They aren't above using protest to destabilize the country in a serious way."
That could jeopardize Serbia's recent push for closer ties with the European Union, which has made membership contingent on the capture of Karadzic and his former military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic.
"Karadzic is a handy pretext for the hard-liners to shake up Tadic's weak coalition ahead of a vote on Aug. 4 for a formal agreement with the EU," says Ljubica Gojgic, a leading columnist for B-92 news service. "They are using every possibility to destabilize....and one of the biggest battles now is for the city of Belgrade. We still don't have a local government."
Karadzic, facing charges of crimes against humanity for massacres and ethnic cleansing, was posing in Belgrade as a long-haired new age guru when he was captured July 21. He was thought to be hours away from extradition to The Hague Monday, but his lawyer and family claim to have sent a "registered letter" of appeal that has not arrived in Belgrade courts. Serb postal authorities say they have checked all post offices in Serbia to no avail. In the meantime, demonstrations by hard-line Radical Party nationalists are planned, and Radical Party officials have openly called Tadic a "traitor."