Lawyer: Serb war crime suspect set for transfer to ICTY on Saturday

Lawyer: Serb war crime suspect set for transfer to ICTY on Saturday

Serbia's last internationally wanted war crime suspect, Goran Hadzic, may be handed to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as early as Saturday, his lawyer said Thursday, DPA reported.

The extradition procedure, which can take up to seven days at most, was already launched Wednesday, hours after Hadzic was arrested.

Lawyer Toma Fila told reporters in Belgrade that there would be no appeal and that the transfer to The Hague-based tribunal may occur as soon as Saturday.

That is when the legal deadline for the appeal expires. On the two remaining days in custody in Belgrade, Hadzic will see his family, Fila said.

A former leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia during the 1991-95 war, Hadzic, 52, was arrested Wednesday after seven years on the run. He disappeared in July 2004, the same day the ICTY announced his indictment.

The ICTY wants to try him on 14 counts of war crime charges, including the massacre of nearly 300 Croat prisoners in 1991 at Vukovar.

He was caught in a village in an area of wooded hills near Novi Sad, 60 kilometres west of Belgrade. It is still unclear where he was hiding and who helped him.

Using his position as the political leader of Croatian Serbs in the war and reputed connections with Serbian and Croatian secret police, Hadzic allegedly amassed a huge fortune by smuggling fuel to Serbia, which was then under an international trade embargo.

Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said after the arrest that Hadzic eventually ran out of money and was caught when he tried to raise some by selling a Modigliani painting, believed to be worth up to 15 million euros (21.3 million dollars).

The trail picked up then led to him in the village Krusedol, where he was arrested along with a man carrying an unspecified amount of money. Hadzic was armed, but did not resist police.

With few details formally available, Serbian media have been flooded with speculation, based on often unreliable sources, about Hadzic's whereabouts since he disappeared in 2004.

A report by Blic said that he has spent some of the time during his run from justice in Russia.

The daily Press quotes state security sources as saying that Hadzic, married and with two sons, had been living with another woman with whom he also has a child.

Following the arrest of Hadzic and two months earlier of general Ratko Mladic, who faces an ICTY trial for genocide in Bosnia, Serbia has now handed over all suspects indicted by the tribunal.

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