Serbia's intelligence service protected war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, whose capture after 12 years on the run was welcomed across Europe, local media reported Wednesday.
Nationalist supporters of Karadzic clashed with riot police in Belgrade
"The secret service protected him, the secret service has now handed him over," Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, who is in charge of the police, was quoted as saying by the daily Press on Wednesday, July 23.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic was arrested on Monday by Serb security forces in the capital Belgrade.
Dacic, head of the late president Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party, repeatedly denied that the police had anything to do with the arrest. Serbian authorities also denied that the police were involved in the arrest.
"Not one policeman participated in the location or arrest of Karadzic. It was all done by security forces," Dacic told Tanjug state agency.
Karadzic to be extradited to The Hague
Slobodan Milosevic was extradited to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague in 2001 by the then prime minister and head of the pro-European Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic.
Zoran Djindjic was slain in 2003 by Milosevic's special police
Djindjic was assassinated in 2003 by Milosevic's special police forces and Milosevic died while in custody in The Hague in 2006.
Djindjic's successor, Boris Tadic, formed Serbia's ruling coalition with Dacic less than two weeks ago.
The International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague indicted Karadzic with genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnia war.
Serbian war crimes court spokesman Bruno Vekaric said Wednesday, July 23, that Karadzic will most likely be extradited to The Hague over the weekend or at the beginning of next week.
Vekaric couldn't give a more precise date because Karadzic's lawyer Svetozar Vujacic plans to appeal on Friday the decision to extradite Karadzic.
"After that, court will have three days to decide on the appeal. Then the interior ministry has to sign the decision. Monday or Tuesday are more realistic, but it can happen sooner," Vekaric told local media.
Nationalists protest Karadzic's capture
Karadzic's lawyer said Karadzic will conduct his own defense at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
"Karadzic will have a legal team here in Serbia that will help him in his defense, but he will represent himself in The Hague tribunal. In the same maestro way as Vojislav Seselj," Vujacic told journalists in Belgrade.
Seselj, the leader of the Serbian opposition ultranationalist Radical Party, is currently on trial in The Hague on charges of murder, torture and persecution of non-Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia during the 1990s wars. He has refused a defense lawyer and is defending himself.
The Radicals are the only Serb party which didn't welcome Karadzic's arrest, which they compared to killing Serbia.
Karadzic lived incognito in Belgrade for years prior to his arrest
Their supporters and other nationalists protesting Karadzic's arrest trashed businesses and clashed with police Tuesday evening in downtown Belgrade and plan to gather again on Wednesday afternoon.
Prior to his arrest, Karadzic was living and working freely in Belgrade as an alternative medicine specialist in a private clinic under a false name Dragan David Dabic.
Karadzic also had his own website and supplemented his income by giving lectures on bio-energy and meditation, and writing for a magazine called Healthy Life.
He grew long, white hair and a beard, which enabled him to travel around the country undetected and attend medical congresses and seminars.
Karadzic's arrest was welcomed by Serbian and European Union officials as a step towards EU membership for the Balkan country.