Karadzic opts for jail makeover

War criminal Radovan Karadzic has spent his first days in prison getting a barber to return him to the familiar coiffured figure who once terrorised tens of thousands.

War criminal Radovan Karadzic has spent his first days in prison getting a barber to return him to the familiar coiffured figure who once terrorised tens of thousands.

The flowing beard which helped disguise him during more than 10 years on the run was shaved off and his pony-tailed hair cut back.

His lawyer Sveta Vujacic said today: “He looks like new, exactly the same, only 14 years older.”

Meanwhile more details emerged of Karadzic’s secret life in Belgrade including a mistress, a bogus family he claimed he left behind in the United States and frequent visits to a pub called The Madhouse.

The former Bosnian Serb leader – arrested on Monday on UN genocide charges - had a girlfriend he presented as an associate at the alternative medicine clinic he owned, according to Zoran Pavlovic, who was hired by Karadzic to set up a website for it.

Mr Pavlovic also said he visited Karadzic’s apartment in New Belgrade and saw a framed photograph of four boys who Karadzic said were grandsons living in America.

Misko Kovijanic, who owns the bar in Karadzic’s district, said Karadzic was a regular who liked to sip red wine in the and enjoy the decor which includes photos of Karadzic and fellow war crimes fugitive Ratko Maldic.

“I’m very proud that he came to my pub, and I’m very sad that he was arrested,” Mr Kovijanic said.

Karadzic will be handed over to the UN war crimes tribunal sometime in the next week, officials said, and his lawyer said he intends to defend himself there just like his mentor, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor, said Karadzic’s extradition “could be Monday or Tuesday – but it could be earlier, too.”

“We cannot say precisely when,” he said Wednesday.

Karadzic’s lawyer also said he intends to defend himself with the help of a team of legal advisers, just like Milosevic did. Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague.

“He can’t wait to appear before the court,” Mr Vujacic said.

Depending on when he arrives in The Hague, Karadzic is expected to appear next week at a hearing, where he will be asked to enter pleas to the 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Karadzic has 30 days after his transfer to enter the pleas. If he refuses, judges will automatically enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.

The arrest of Karadzic, one of world’s most-wanted men, was hailed by the US and by European governments who applauded Serbia’s new pro-Western leadership for the capture.

But in Belgrade, Serbian nationalists lashed out at authorities. Dozens of extremists took to the streets yesterday, clashing with police during a protest in the capital.

Chanting “Treason!”, the demonstrators threw stones at riot police who cordoned them off. Five demonstrators and a policeman were injured.

“This is a hard day for Serbia,” Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party said, vowing his party will do “all in its power” to topple the pro-Western government.

Serb officials said they arrested Karadzic on Monday evening near Belgrade. Karadzic had lived freely for months in the capital before he was captured.

“His false identity was very convincing,” said Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor. “He had moved freely in public places.”

While on the run, Karadzic used a false name – Dragan Dabic.

The arrest appeared to be the result of 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.

European Union foreign ministers said the arrest helped Serbia’s bid for membership in the bloc.

Karadzic’s whereabouts had been a mystery since he went on the run in 1998; his early hideouts reportedly included monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.

Karadzic’s family in Bosnia, barred from leaving the country because of suspicions that they helped him elude capture, has asked to have those restrictions lifted. The Bosnian Serb government says it will help the family financially, now that Karadzic has been captured.

More than 100,000 people died during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, and 1.8 million others were driven from their homes.

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