Serbian public shocked by arrest of Karadzic

Other News Materials 22 July 2008 11:39 (UTC +04:00)

The Serbian general public reacted Tuesday with shock and disbelief to the news that Bosnian Serb wartime leader and war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has been arrested.

"I can't believe it. I though he was dead or that he will die hiding," said 30-year-old Maja who didn't want to give her last name. "I'm so shocked."

Serbia authorities on Monday night said they arrested Radovan Karadzic, one of the top two Balkan war crimes suspects, reported dpa.

Karadzic's lawyer Svetozar Vujacic told Beta news agency that Karadzic was arrested on Friday night in the capital Belgrade and was held "in some room" until Monday with "a hat on his head" so he couldn't see who arrested him.

The cabinet of Serbian President Boris Tadic in a brief press release on Monday night said that "Serb security forces located and arrested Radovan Karadzic" without saying when and where.

Vujacic said that Karadzic was calm but lost weight because he refused food. He added that Karadzic didn't speak during the interrogation and that the whole case is a "farce."

The judge of the war crimes court in Belgrade, Milan Dilparic, confirmed to the Belgrade media that the interrogation of Karadzic has finished but gave no further details and refused to comment on the speculation that Karadzic was arrested on Friday.

Serbian officials and analysts generally agree that the arrest of Karadzic is good for Serbia and a step forward towards the European Union (EU), while nationalist opposition believe that "Serbia is a step closer to its extinction."

The late Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists formed less than two weeks ago a ruling coalition with the pro-European block led by Tadic.

Socialist leader Ivica Dacic is the new interior minister and controls the police. On Monday night he denied that police forces participated in the arrest of Karadzic.

Serbia needs to arrest Karadzic's aide Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic in order to fulfill it obligations to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague and to get Brussels' approval of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, a first step towards EU membership.