Karadzic appeal deadline passes

The deadline for Radovan Karadzic to appeal against his handover to the United Nations war crimes court passed today with the lawyer for the ex-Bosnian Serb warlord refusing to confirm he had taken that step.

The deadline for Radovan Karadzic to appeal against his handover to the United Nations war crimes court passed today with the lawyer for the ex-Bosnian Serb warlord refusing to confirm he had taken that step.

However, an appeal notice is believed to have been posted just before the midnight deadline at an unknown Serbian location, in a bid to delay the process.

The lawyer, Sveta Vujacic, was clearly doing all he could to fight the extradition, but that included keeping everyone guessing.

Karadzic faces 11 charges against him at the war crimes tribunal at The Hague in the Netherlands, including genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide for allegedly masterminding the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica - Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War.

A prosecutor interviewed Karadzic for more than an hour yesterday about the details of the war crime suspect's arrest, Mr Vujacic said.

Karadzic then had until midnight to lodge the formal appeal, Serbian court spokeswoman Ivana Ramic said. Once the Serb court receives the appeal, a panel of judges will meet to decide on it. After that, the case will be handed over to the Serbian government, which issues the final extradition order.

All Mr Vujacic would say was that he planned to send Karadzic's appeal to the court five minutes before post offices closed at 8pm (7pm Irish time) - a move aimed at prolonging Karadzic's extradition period. He predicted that Karadzic would not be extradited before Wednesday.

Mr Vujacic later said he would not confirm filing the appeal, which he said could be sent from any post office in Serbia.

"All those waiting for me to show up will be disappointed. Any of my assistants or couriers can mail it," Mr Vujacic said. Serbia's state Tanjug news agency quoting him as saying this was part of his defence strategy.

The lawyer could not be reached for comment after the post offices closed.

Karadzic had been a fugitive for over a decade before he was arrested. The Serbian government says he was captured on Monday, while Mr Vujacic claims Karadzic was seized last week and held incommunicado by unknown kidnappers for three days.

Mr Vujacic has filed a lawsuit against Karadzic's alleged abductors. Responding to the lawsuit, a prosecutor spoke to Karadzic about the claims yesterday, Mr Vujacic said.

Court spokeswoman Ms Ramic said "all important circumstances" were being taken into account in the extradition procedure.

Mr Vujacic also says his client plans to defend himself against UN genocide charges, just as his mentor, former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, did. Milosevic died in 2006 while being tried for genocide.

Meanwhile several hundred ultra-nationalists - chanting Karadzic's name and denouncing Serbian president Boris Tadic - marched for the third day of protests in downtown Belgrade yesterday in support of Karadzic.

The demonstrators briefly scuffled with riot police and hurled burning torches at the Belgrade City Council building.

Vjerica Radeta, a top official and MP from the Serbian Radical Party, warned that pro-Western Tadic may meet a fate similar to Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian reformist prime minister assassinated in Belgrade in 2003 by nationalists opposed to his extradition of Milosevic to The Hague.

"We remind Tadic that treason has never been forgiven in Serbia," Mr Radeta said. "Every traitor in Serbian history has met with damnation."

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