BELGRADE (Reuters) – The legal team of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has filed an appeal to delay his extradition to the United Nations tribunal in The Hague, Karadzic’s brother said on Sunday.
The leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the 1992-95 Bosnia war, who is indicted twice for genocide, was arrested last week after 11 years in hiding, and is now being held in a Belgrade prison.
His lawyer, who had until midnight on Friday to file an appeal to the extradition order, has refused to confirm whether he did indeed file it, and hinted he might be sending the document by post from outside the capital to delay the process.
“Of course we have appealed, the appeal was filed by (lawyer) Svetozar Vujacic,” Karadzic’s brother Luka told the state news agency Tanjug on Sunday. “I cannot tell you where it was sent from or when it will be received by the special court.”
Once the appeal is received, a panel of judges has three days to rule on it. If the appeal is rejected, the Serbian government formally approves the extradition and can send Karadzic to The Hague almost immediately.
In theory, the panel of judges could accept Karadzic’s appeal and reject the extradition order, but Serbian officials say this is extremely unlikely. Karadzic’s arrest and delivery to The Hague is key to Serbia’s ties with the European Union.
Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic were indicted in 1995 for planning the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, where 11,000 people died from mortars, sniper fire, malnutrition and illness.
Karadzic has maintained his innocence, accusing the Hague court of being biased against Serbs.
Hardline nationalists agree, and have called a mass protest this week against his arrest and extradition. Local media have reported that death threats were made against politicians blamed for his arrest, such as pro-Western President Boris Tadic.