Karadzic to Defend Self at The Hague

Radovan Karadzic will conduct his own defense in the Hague tribunal and is convinced that he will be cleared of the charges of genocide, relatives and associates of the war-crimes suspect said Wednesday.

Karadzic, leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the 1992-95 Bosnia war, was arrested in Serbia on Monday after 11 years on the run.

He was one of three war-crimes fugitives from the Yugoslav wars, their arrest a key condition for Serbia to move toward European Union membership. He is currently in a Belgrade prison awaiting extradition, which could come sometime this weekend.

Karadzic's lawyer in Serbia, Svetozar Vujacic, said his client was in good mental and physical condition. He was not talking to investigators, but "defending himself with silence."

"He is going to have a legal team in Serbia but will defend himself during his trial at The Hague," Vujacic said.

Karadzic is twice indicted for genocide for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995 and for the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. Some 11,000 people died in the city from sniper fire, mortar attacks, starvation and illness.

The former Bosnian Serb leader lived under an assumed name for years and worked as a doctor of alternative medicine. He wore thick glasses and grew a bushy beard and long hair, which he wore in a plaited topknot, to hide a well-known face.

On Wednesday, he requested and got a haircut and shave.

Vujacic said he would formally appeal against Karadzic's extradition order Friday, when a legal deadline expires, to allow his family to visit, if they are allowed to leave Bosnia.

Karadzic's wife and children are banned from leaving Bosnia under measures meant to choke off Karadzic's support network.

The arrest, two weeks into the term of Serbia's new government, is a great success for the coalition of the pro-Western Democrats and the Socialist Party founded by Milosevic, a onetime backer of Karadzic.

The EU has called the arrest "a milestone" on Serbia's road to joining the EU but said Belgrade must go further to reap the full benefits, by arresting Karadzic's military chief Ratko Mladic, who is wanted on the same charges.

Russian politicians declared that his arrest was motivated by Serbia's wish to integrate with the West.

Western leaders have loudly applauded the capture of Karadzic, but he is viewed more sympathetically in Russia, which historically has had closer ties with the country.

Moscow says Serbia will have fulfilled its obligations to the United Nations by handing Karadzic over to its Netherlands-based court.

"The trial should be objective and politicized elements, which were present in the previous work of the tribunal, should not let themselves be known," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in televised comments.

But many say Karadzic's arrest was politically motivated and that he will face a puppet court in The Hague.

Karadzic's arrest resulted from "every form of crude political, economic and media pressure put on Belgrade by the West," Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said in a statement.

Reuters, AP