Karadzic in war crimes tribunal custody

Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is in the custody of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands, a U.N. spokesman confirmed, reported CNN.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague said in a statement that it took custody of Karadzic after his extradition from Serbia. Karadzic has been admitted to a UN detention center at The Hague, the statement said.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic arrived Wednesday morning in The Netherlands to answer to war crimes charges at The Hague.

A plane believed to carry former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic arrives in the Netherlands Wednesday.

Karadzic faces 11 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war. The charges stem from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, when Karadzic was president of a breakaway Serb republic.

The war-crimes tribunal accuses Karadzic of leading a campaign that killed thousands of men, women and children -- mainly Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats who were killed by Serbs as part of a violent effort to rid the region of non-Serbs.

Forces under Karadzic's command rounded up tens of thousands of non-Serbs and held them in camps where, an indictment says, the Serbian forces "tortured, mistreated, sexually assaulted and killed non-Serbs," the tribunal said Wednesday.

"The indictment also charges Karadzic with responsibility for a protracted campaign of shelling and sniping of civilian areas of Sarajevo, killing and wounding thousands of civilians, including children and the elderly," a tribunal statement said.

Serbian authorities arrested Karadzic July 21 in Belgrade, Serbia, ending his more than 13 years as one of Europe's most wanted men -- a time during which he disguised himself by growing a long white beard and mustache and re-invented himself as a practitioner of alternative medicine.

The authorities in Serbia took the first steps to extradite him around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday (9:30 p.m. Tuesday ET), when black Range Rovers driven by masked men pulled into a detention center where the former leader was being held.

In the next day or two, the former leader is likely to face a judge to hear the formal charges against him. Karadzic will have the chance at that hearing to enter a plea -- or defer entering a plea for 30 days.

A trial probably is several months away.

The transfer from Serbia began in the pre-dawn darkness, several hours after thousands of Karadzic's supporters waved flags and chanted nationalist slogans in a rally in Belgrade.

The onetime psychiatrist and aspiring poet was arrested July 21 after more than a decade as a fugitive.

During the rally on Tuesday night, Karadzic supporters decried the prospect of his transfer to an international war-crimes tribunal.

"I'm here to support the movement of the people, to defend Karadzic from those cannibals in The Hague -- so-called judges," one man told CNN. "That is not judgment. That is inquisition."

A few dozen demonstrators clashed with police about a block from the square as the rally broke up, some setting fire to garbage cans. Police used tear gas to disperse them, and no injuries were reported.

Ultranationalist Serb parties organized the rally in central Belgrade, but Serbian President Boris Tadic reaffirmed his support for Karadzic's extradition, saying his government is "obeying our own laws."

"Those who are organizing and supporting this protest had the opportunity to change the law while they had a majority in parliament," said Tadic, whose government wants closer ties with the West. "They did not change this law because they did not want to or because they did not have enough political courage to change it."

The Bosnian war was Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II and the longest of the wars spawned by the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Backed by the government of then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian Serb forces seized control of more than half the country and launched a campaign against the Muslim and Croat populations that introduced the term "ethnic cleansing" to the world.

Karadzic was removed from power in 1995, when the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian war barred anyone accused of war crimes from holding office. Though he portrayed Serbs as victims, Karadzic is accused of responsibility for the massacre at Srebrenica, a U.N. "safe area" Serb troops overran in July 1995.

Nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica, the worst European massacre since World War II.

Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial at The Hague. The highest-ranking figure to remain at large is Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander during the Bosnian war.

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