Karadzic to face war crimes tribunal today

THE HAGUE - Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, pictured, was taken to a prison cell in The Hague yesterday to face trial at a UN war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

THE HAGUE - Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, pictured, was taken to a prison cell in The Hague yesterday to face trial at a UN war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

Karadzic, arrested near Belgrade last week, was flown out of Serbia by plane at night under tight security. Shortly after dawn, he was whisked from Rotterdam Airport to the Scheveningen Detention Centre near The Hague.

He is to appear before the tribunal for the first time today, and will be asked to enter a plea to the charges against him, the court said. "His arrest is a major achievement of Serbia's cooperation with the UN Security Council," Prosecutor Serge Brammertz told journalists at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

He said the trial was likely to begin in a few months.

The only higher ranking official to be brought before the tribunal for crimes during the Balkan wars was Karadzic's former ally, Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 at the detention centre months before a verdict was due at his trial.

Brammertz said he was confident Karadzic's trial would be efficient and successful, but noted two fugitives were still on the run after the Balkan wars of the 1990s. They include the Bosnian Serb wartime commander, General Ratko Mladic. Karadzic's delivery to The Hague was key to Serbia securing closer ties with the European Union (EU), and his arrest was seen as a pro-Western signal by the new government sworn in this month.

His arrival at The Hague is expected by the Serbian government to defuse tension in Belgrade over his arrest and unlock EU trade benefits. - Reuters

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