Karadzic's Followers Protest His Extradition Since the capture of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, his supporters have staged large protests against his extradition to The Hague, where he will be tried for war crimes. Dejan Anastasijevic, a journalist with the Serbian magazine Vreme, talks about the expected extradition.
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Karadzic's Followers Protest His Extradition

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Karadzic's Followers Protest His Extradition

Karadzic's Followers Protest His Extradition

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


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.


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

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