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Europe

EU Welcomes Karadzic Extradiction to The Hague

Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has arrived at the detention unit of the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague where he is to be tried. He'll appear before the court Thursday.

View of a prison cell inside Scheveningen prison in The Netherlands

Karadzic is now staying in a prison cell like this one

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic will make his first appearance before the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court on Thursday to enter a plea on genocide charges, the court said.

"The initial appearance of Radovan Karadzic has been scheduled to take place Thursday, July 31, at 4 p.m. in Courtroom I before Judge Alphons Orie," the court said in a statement Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Karadzic, 63, was seen being whisked through the main entrance of the detention unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in a motorcade at 7:10 a.m. local time after an overnight flight from Belgrade.

Radovan Karadzic with a white beard

Karadzic's disguise helped him live in secret

He is to stand trial for his role in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Karadzic said he would defend himself in The Hague.

The extradition came just hours after thousands of people gathered in Belgrade's main square in support of Karadzic and groups of protesters clashed with the police.

The Hague tribunal charged Karadzic for the genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnia wars 1992-95 where an estimated 100,000 people died. He was arrested on Monday, July 21 in the Serbian capital after 12 years on the run.

His arrest on a public bus was the end of a long elaborate charade which included a false identity, a mistress, long white hair and beard and posing as an alternative medicine expert.

The warrant for Karadzic's extradition was signed around 4 a.m. in the morning by Serbian Minister of Justice Snezana Malovic since Karadzic's appeal on the extradition didn't reach the court.

Karadzic extradition was bogged down in a tug-of-war between his lawyer and a Belgrade court. Karadzic's lawyers said he would file an appeal by last Friday but repeatedly declined to give any proof that he did so and the Special Court in Belgrade never received the appeal.

Karadzic, who shaved his beard and cut his hair while in Belgrade prison, plans to defend himself in front of The Hague, just like his mentor late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic and Radicals leader Vojislav Seselj.

Support for Karadzic

Milosevic (left) and Karadzic in 1994

Milosevic (left) and Karadzic in 1994

Milosevic was extradited in 2001 by then Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and died in The Hague a couple of years later. Seselj is on trial in the Hague and his Radical party and other ultranationalist groups organized an "All Serbs" rally of support to Karadzic on Tuesday evening which ended in violence.

Serb police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at rioting protesters during Tuesday night's rally for Karadzic.

As the peaceful protest in Belgrade came to an end around 150 ultranationalist youths threw stones and bottles at police and smashed windows in a nearby street, leaving it littered with gas and overturned garbage bins.

"It looks like a war zone," one eye witness told DPA news service.

More than 40 people, including some 20 police and two journalists, were hurt during the riots that ebbed after an hour.

Protestors clashed with police in Belgrade on Tuesday

Protestors clashed with police in Belgrade on Tuesday

More than 10,000 people gathered in Republica square to protest against Karadzic's arrest and his extradition to The Hague. Speakers praised him as a Serb hero, denounced Serbian President Boris Tadic as a "traitor" and called the tribunal in The Hague an "evil beast."

Serbia is hopeful that its reward for full cooperation with the tribunal is European Union membership, which polls indicate 70 percent of the nation supports.

However, Serbia is also likely to be required to hand over fugitive war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, a former general also indicted for the slaughter at Srebrenica, as well as Serb-Croat Goran Hadzic.

EU welcomes extradiction

The European Union on Wednesday welcomed the transfer to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, is "satisfied" that the transfer has taken place, a spokesman said.

It is "a significant step for international justice, first of all, it is a significant step for Serbia and also for EU-Serbia relations," he said.

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