Karadzic extradition may be delayed

 

Lawyers at The Hague war crimes tribunal say they expect the extradition of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to be delayed.

Mr Karadzic's lawyer has indicated he will launch a legal appeal against the extradition at the very last minute on Friday.

However Serbian war crimes prosecutors say they expect Mr Karadzic to be sent to The Hague next week.

Serbia's new government decided today to reinstate its ambassadors to European Union member states, its second goodwill gesture to the EU this week after the arrest of a Karadzic.

Envoys were withdrawn from more than 40 states - the United States, most EU countries, and some Asian and Middle Eastern nations - that recognised a declaration of independence in February by Serbia's former province Kosovo, a move Belgrade calls illegal.

Officials said Belgrade was being pragmatic and would not allow EU states' recognition of Kosovo to hinder closer ties.

Brussels said this week that arresting genocide suspect Karadzic was a sign Serbia was serious about its EU bid. But some states want to see the last two fugitives wanted for crimes during the Yugoslav wars arrested for Serbia to prove it deserves to become a member of the bloc.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night hailed the arrest of Karadzic this week and said she hoped his army chief Ratko Mladic would be caught next.

"It's a tremendous step forward for Serbia and its European identity," Rice told reporters traveling with her on a trip to Asia. "I hope it provides an opportunity for some healing."

She said the Balkans was trying to overcome a long period of "extreme darkness" and the arrest of one of the most wanted suspects from the Bosnian conflict was "one more step in the end to that nightmare."

Ms Rice said she hoped Karadzic's arrest on Monday would be followed by that of his army chief Mladic, who along with Karadzic was one of the most wanted suspects from the Bosnia conflict.

"The Serbs are making a step forward in closing an ugly chapter in their past and I just hope that Mladic is next," Ms Rice added.

Karadzic and Mladic were indicted for genocide over the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which some 8,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslim males were killed and bulldozed into mass graves.

Agencies