Copyright ©2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Deborah Amos in for Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

One of the reasons accused war criminal Radovan Karadzic was able to live freely in Serbia for so long was a brilliant disguise. Another reason: he still has a loyal political following. Those who consider Karadzic a hero will be out in force today in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, to protest his arrest and likely extradition to The Hague.

The extradition is thought to be days, if not hours, away. At the United Nations tribunal at The Hague he'll face charges of genocide for acts during the Bosnian War, including one massacre that left 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead.

Dejan Anastasijevic is an investigative journalist with the Belgrade newsweekly Vreme, and he's a contributor to Time magazine. He joins us from Belgrade. Good morning.

Mr. DEJAN ANASTASIJEVIC (Vreme; Time Magazine): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Now, today's rally was called by the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party. How many people do you think will come out to this rally?

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Well, it is hard to tell, but probably about ten to twenty thousand, and this is at least what the Serbia Radical Party officials said. They are also busing people from all over Serbia. So it will be a relatively sizable crowd.

MONTAGNE: Now, I gather there's some tension there and some concern that the protest could turn violent.

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Yes. There is quite a lot of concern about that. There were smaller protests over the last week after the arrest of Radovan Karadzic in Belgrade, and they were as a rule quite violent. These were a small number of people protested, but these people were mostly football hooligans or bullies, and journalists were attacked, shop windows have been broken. And the Radical Party does have a history of using political violence against its opponents.

And on top of that, Serbia Radical Party officials have already issued threats against Serbia's president, Boris Tadic, and other government officials for alleged treason.

MONTAGNE: What about those threats? How serious are concerns for the safety of Serbia's president?

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Serbian president is being protected by essentially military security, detail, very professional people, commandos. And he also has, of course, counterintelligence protection. So I think he's reasonably safe. The fear really is that the Radical Party will try to incite as much violence during the protest today in order to provoke the government to maybe overreact and then claim that democracy in Serbia is in danger or even create conditions for some sort of a coup.

MONTAGNE: Now, Radovan Karadzic's lawyer is fighting to delay his extradition. What's his argument?

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Well, he is trying to use the technicalities because there is not much maneuvering space that he has. The procedure for cases like this can only last between one and two weeks and it cannot be prolonged more than this. So he's using various techniques.

For example, he deliberately delayed filing an appeal until the last moment. That appeal has not even arrived by post. Some people say that he hasn't actually appealed at all. But Karadzic will be in The Hague, if not today, probably by the end of this week.

MONTAGNE: There is another major war crimes suspect still at large - the Bosnian-Serb commander Radko Mladic. Following the arrest of Karadzic last week, there is speculation that Mladic would soon be arrested as well. So, what is the latest on that?

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Mladic, who is allegedly hiding somewhere in Serbia, and has been hiding since the year 2000, is still a big problem for Serbia. So far the Serbian officials have been promising that they will do their best to find him but they were dragging their feet.

Now, the new government, which was only installed earlier this month, seems to be determined to really catch all the indicted war criminals who are still on the Serbian soil and deliver them to The Hague. However, the whole focus is now on Karadzic and his transfer to The Hague.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. ANASTASIJEVIC: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Dejan Anastasijevic is an investigative journalist with the Serbian magazine Vreme.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.