Karadzic lawyer braced for fight

Svetozar Vujacic tells Al Jazeera officials have not given a true account of the arrest.


    Vujacic wants to make it difficult for those accusing Karadzic [Al Jazeera]

    It's late on a Saturday night and Svetozar Vujacic, the lawyer representing Radovan Karadzic, is still in his corner office in an old building near the centre of Belgrade.

    One reason is to meet us, but the other is the case he is currently working on.  He is preparing Karadzic's defence.

    Vujacic has known the family for years and is a close friend of Luka Karadzic, Radovan Karadzic's brother.

    When he was told he had been taken to the special criminal court in Belgrade, he immediately offered his services and Radovan Karadzic was happy to accept.

    Vujacic looks tired and smokes constantly. He has been the main contact between the prison cell and the outside world. Everyone wants a little bit of his time.

    In a exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Vujacic confirmed that he had lodged an appeal against extradition despite earlier refusing to give any clues to their legal manoeuvring.

    "I won't tell you where I did it, what post office I used because the authorities will be able to track it down quicker. I want to get my client as much time as possible and make it as difficult as I can for those accusing him. It could take up to two days for the documents to arrive in court," he said.

    Bus-stop arrest

    The Serbian authorities announced on Monday that Karadzic had been detained while travelling on a bus in Belgrade.

    The world's most wanted war-crimes suspect changed his appearance radically with a bushy white beard and wild grey hair which only highlighted the black braid in the middle of his head.

    Vujacic disputes the date his client Karadzic, left, was captured [AFP]
    He said it was to channel positive  energy, but there are those who claim the former psychiatrist was pulling an old psychological trick by diverting attention away from his face.

    Every day, the lawyer and the family make the journey to the special court building where Karadzic is held.

    Vujacic says the authorities have not given a true account of what happened. 

    "Even today they are hiding the truth in their offical explanation when they say he was arrested on the July 21," he said.

    "It was only on that day he was transferred to the special court. I am claiming, and we have a lot of evidence, that he was apprehended on the July 18.

    "This was kidnapping, this was abduction, this was not being arrested. He was illegally detained."

    It is a suggestion rejected by the special prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, who told me that when the arrest was made they wanted everyone to know.

    Gravity of charges

    Karadzic is well aware of the magnitude of the charges against him - all stemming from his role as the leader of Bosnia's Serbs during the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.

    He faces eleven charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. He is blamed for the near four year siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.

    His lawyer has read the lengthy indictment.

    "I can tell when you start reading them they are rubbish," Vujacic said.

    "According to them, he is guilty of destroying the Twin Towers, according to the indictments he killed half the population of the world. These charges have no basis in fact."

    The courtroom in the Hague is being prepared for Karadzic's arrival, which is expected later this week.

    It has already seen a number of high-profile trials of those accused of atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.

    Previous client

    One was that of Slobodan Milosovic, the former president of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

     He was also a client of Svetozar Vujacic, who fears Karadzic will not get a fair trial.

    "No Serb can have a fair trial there. The Hague tribunal - I, as a lawyer, cannot say anything positive about it," he says.

    "It is a political creation - I call it a legal freak."

    The appeal against extradition should be delivered to the authorities in the next few days.

    A panel of judges will then consider the case and if they reject it, the government in Belgrade will make a final decision.

    But even his lawyer thinks there is nothing that will stop Radovan Karadzic from appearing in the dock in The Hague.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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