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30 Jul 2008 07:16
War crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic arrived in The Netherlands on Wednesday to face trial at The Hague on charges of genocide for his actions in the 1992 to 1995 Bosnia war.
The former leader of the Bosnian Serbs is expected to be held at a nearby detention centre and then appear at the United Nations war crimes tribunal soon afterwards.
The plane carrying Karadzic landed at Rotterdam airport.
Karadzic faces two charges of genocide for the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of about 8 000 Muslims at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
Arrested last week after 11 years on the run, Karadzic was most recently living under an assumed name as a bearded, long-haired alternative healer.
Earlier in Belgrade, he was escorted to the airport by masked officials from the Serbian secret service. A convoy of black jeeps took him from prison to the capital’s airport.
On Tuesday, about 10 000 hardline nationalists, many brought by bus from rural nationalist strongholds, showed their support for him in downtown Belgrade, chanting his name and holding up giant banners with his picture.
Clashes broke out when several dozen youths linked to hooligan groups threw flares, stones and garbage cans at riot police.
About 45 people, most of them policemen, were wounded.
Karadzic’s delivery to The Hague is key to Serbia securing closer ties with the European Union and his arrest was seen as a clear pro-Western signal by the new government, sworn in earlier this month.
Sending him to The Hague is expected by the government to defuse tension and stop further protests, but also to unlock European Union trade benefits.
Karadzic’s legal team had tried to delay his extradition by launching a cumbersome appeal procedure that threatened to drag on for several more days.
Relatives have said Karadzic is in good spirits and preparing for his defence. He has had two suits delivered for his court appearance, one light, one dark. - Reuters
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