BELGRADE, July 26 – A deadline for Radovan Karadzic to appeal his transfer to the UN war crimes tribunal expired Saturday, but it remained unclear whether his lawyer has lodged a complaint.
Karadzic’s lawyer Svetozar Vujacic could not be contacted by telephone as the deadline expired at Friday at midnight (2200 GMT).
Vujacic, who earlier said he would lodge an appeal, refused to confirm to the Tanjug news agency whether he had, insisting that "depriving (the) public of information about it is a part of the defence strategy."
Karadzic, 63, the wartime Bosnian Serb leader indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was arrested in Belgrade on Monday, having evaded capture for more than a decade.
Vujacic has said he intends to delay his transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for as long as possible.
When an appeal is filed, a three-judge panel of Serbia’s special war crimes court then has three days to decide on its merits.
Once the panel reaches its decision, Serbia’s justice ministry must issue the final order to transfer the suspect to the ICTY.
As the deadline neared, more details emerged about Karadzic’s whereabouts for the last years, when he disguised himself as an alternative medicine specialist called Dragan Dabic.
Reports said he travelled as far as Austria and Italy under new identities to treat patients using methods including "quantum medicine" and "bioenergy."
An Austrian-Serb couple told the Vienna newspaper Kurier they recognised pictures of the long-haired healer who until just over a year ago had been treating the woman to help her fall pregnant.
Another Vienna daily, Oesterreich, said he treated patients for erectile dysfunction, rheumatism and headaches, with potions he sold or the laying on of hands.
An interior ministry spokesman confirmed that Karadzic stayed in Vienna in May 2007 under the name of Petar.
Karadzic was even apprehended in May 2007 by agents from the Austrian commando unit, Cobra, when they raided his Vienna apartment in search of a suspected murderer, Austrian television ORF reported.
The agents found a seemingly inoffensive bearded man, according to ORF, and the murderer they were looking for turned himself in shortly afterwards.
Separately, an alternative health colleague told an Italian newspaper that Karadzic was "a saint" who only performed good deeds and showed great knowledge in his acquired field.
Mila Damianov told La Repubblica she "never doubted his identity."
At the block of Belgrade flats where "Dr. Dabic" last lived, residents recalled a kind man who they would never have guessed was Karadzic.
Despite his legal challenge, Karadzic still looks set to be transferred to The Hague next week.
The delaying tactic could give his Bosnia-based family, including wife Ljiljana and daughter Sonja, enough time to get back confiscated travel papers and see him before his transfer.
Vujacic has said Karadzic intends to defend himself before the UN court, mirroring the approach of his Serbian ally Slobodan Milosevic, who died in his cell at The Hague before a verdict could be delivered.
Karadzic is wanted for orchestrating two of Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II, the 44-month siege of Sarajevo which killed more than 10,000 people and the Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim males.
He went into hiding in 1996, the year after the ICTY indicted him.
The 11 counts against him include genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportation and inhumane acts against Muslims, Croats and other non-Serb civilians.
Karadzic’s arrest has raised tensions in Belgrade, where leaders linked to it, including President Boris Tadic, have been placed under the tightest level of security having received death threats.
The first survey done after Karadzic’s arrest said 42 percent of Serbs supported it, but 54 percent of those questioned were against his transfer to the ICTY.
Some 300 ultranationalists, monitored by anti-riot police, marched along central Belgrade avenues for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, chanting Karadzic’s name and shouting insults to Serbia’s pro-European leadership.