Riot police prepare for Karadzic protest

Thousands of riot police were deployed in Belgrade today preparing for a huge demonstration in support of jailed Radovan Karadzic.

Thousands of riot police were deployed in Belgrade today preparing for a huge demonstration in support of jailed Radovan Karadzic.

Serbia’s president warned the right-wing extremists to remain peaceful as they march in protest over the looming extradition of the war crimes suspect they consider a hero.

“Everyone has the right to demonstrate, but they should know that law and order will be respected,” said pro-Western President Boris Tadic.

The US Embassy in Belgrade said that up to 100,000 people may turn out.

In February, when the ultra-nationalists organised a rally against Western countries that recognised Kosovo’s independence, the embassy was partly burned and protesters went on a looting spree, smashing shops and restaurants.

The protest will be a test case for Mr Tadic’s government, which is much more pro-Western than the one that controlled Serbia during the embassy attack.

The rally organiser – the right-wing Serbian Radical Party – said it is bringing Karadzic supporters from all over Serbia and Bosnia, where Karadzic is still revered as a wartime hero for helping to create the Bosnian Serb ministate.

Radical Party leader Aleksandar Vucic said: “The protest is against the treacherous and dictatorial regime of Mr Tadic", who has received death threats from the radicals following Karadzic’s arrest.

Karadzic faces 11 charges at the UN tribunal, including genocide and conspiracy to commit genocide. He is accused of masterminding the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo, which left 10,000 people dead.

He was captured on July 21 in Belgrade, where he lived under the assumed identity of a health guru, with long white beard and hair, and large glasses.

Meanwhile, it remained unclear whether the lawyer for Karadzic, the ex-Bosnian Serb leader, had lodged an appeal against his extradition to the UN war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands.

“There is nothing new. The appeal still isn’t here,” a court spokeswoman said.

Karadzic’s lawyer claimed he sent the appeal to the court by registered mail on Friday, before the midnight deadline that day. But the postal service said it does not have it.

Under Serbian law, if the appeal is not filed, or if it is sent by post but does not arrive at the Belgrade court, the court’s investigative judge can rule to extradite Karadzic to The Hague tribunal in the Netherlands without considering his objection.

In a sign that Karadzic was packing his bags in anticipation of a quick handover to the UN tribunal, his nephew Dragan Karadzic – who claimed he helped his uncle as a fugitive – was seen today taking two large suitcases into the Belgrade prison where his uncle is held.

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