A prosecutor interviewed war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic on Friday about the details of his arrest, his lawyer said, amid efforts by the ex-Bosnian Serb warlord to fight his extradition to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
Karadzic has until midnight Friday to lodge a formal appeal against a handover to the war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands, Serbian court spokeswoman Ivana Ramic told The Associated Press.
Once the Serb court receives the appeal, a panel of judges will meet to decide on it, Ramic explained. After that, the case will be handed over to the Serbian government, which issues the final extradition order.
Lawyer Sveta Vujacic said Friday he plans to mail Karadzic’s appeal five minutes before post offices close at 8 p.m. local time — a move to prolong Karadzic’s extradition period. He predicted that Karadzic would not be extradited before Wednesday.
Karadzic had been a fugitive for over a decade before he was arrested. Government officials say he was captured Monday, while Vujacic claims Karadzic was apprehended last week and held incommunicado by unknown kidnappers for three days.
Vujacic has filed a lawsuit against Karadzic’s alleged abductors. Responding to the lawsuit, a prosecutor spoke to Karadzic about the claims for more than an hour Friday, Vujacic said.
Court spokeswoman Ramic said “all important circumstances” are being taken into account in the extradition procedure.
Third day of protests
Vujacic also said his client plans to defend himself against U.N. genocide charges, just as his mentor, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, did. Milosevic died in 2006 while being tried for genocide.
Karadzic’s arrest has sparked Serb nationalist anger.
Several hundred ultranationalists — chanting Karadzic’s name and denouncing Serbian President Boris Tadic — marched Friday for the third straight day of protests in downtown Belgrade in support of Karadzic.
The demonstrators briefly scuffled with riot police and hurled burning torches at the Belgrade City Council building. They did not follow the lead of Thursday’s protesters and also attack reporters covering the demonstration.
Vjerica Radeta, a top official and lawmaker from the Serbian Radical Party, also warned the pro-Western Tadic. Radeta said Tadic may meet a similar fate as Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian reformist prime minister assassinated in Belgrade in 2003 by nationalists opposed to his extradition of Milosevic to The Hague.
“We remind Tadic that treason has never been forgiven in Serbia,” Radeta said. “Every traitor in Serbian history has met with damnation.”
Also Friday, more possible news on Karadzic’s nearly 13 years under cover emerged. An Austrian newspaper reported that Karadzic worked in Vienna as a “miracle healer,” seeing patients in homes of Serbians living in the Austrian capital.
Reading the Bible in detention
The Kurier newspaper quoted a married couple who said they sought his services after trying in vain to have children. Their encounter with him occurred in mid-2006.
In Serbia, the Vecernje Novosti daily reported that Karadzic has been reading the Bible since in detention, drinking only water and eating whole-grain bread.
While in hiding, Karadzic had assumed a false identity of “Dragan Dabic.” The real Dabic is a 66-year-old construction worker from Ruma, a town north of Belgrade, government official Rasim Ljajic confirmed, adding that Dabic’s ID differed from Karadzic’s “only in the photographs.”
Real Dabic, who has no physical resemblance to Karadzic, was shocked.
“Instead of working in the garden, I’m being besieged by reporters and answering telephone calls,” he said in Ruma, adding that he had no idea how the copy of his ID ended up in Karadzic’s hands.
“This is unfair. Instead of finding out who really cooked this up, I’m being questioned by police,” he said.
Property could be confiscated
Meanwhile in Bosnia, Raffi Gregorian, deputy to the country’s international administrator, was quoted Friday by the daily Dnevni Avaz as saying options are being considered on how to confiscate Karadzic’s property to compensate victims of wartime atrocities.
Victims who fled to the United States during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war have sought compensation from Karadzic through the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. A jury decided on the sum of $4.5 billion in 2000.
It is not known how much property Karadzic owns.