Genocide suspect Radovan Karadzic will be handed over to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, this weekend or early next week, a Serbian official said Wednesday.
Bruno Vekaric, spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, said the former Bosnian Serb wartime leader's extradition "could be Monday or Tuesday - but it could be earlier, too."
"We cannot say precisely when Karadzic will be sent to The Hague tribunal," he said.
In The Hague, tribunal prosecution spokeswoman Olga Karvan said the court is awaiting developments in Belgrade. Depending on when he arrives, Karadzic is expected to appear next week at a hearing, where he will be asked to enter pleas to the 11 charges against him - which include genocide and crimes against humanity.
Karadzic, who was captured Monday in Serbia after more than a decade on the run, has 30 days after his transfer to enter the pleas. If he refuses, judges will automatically enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.
Karadzic's lawyer, Sveta Vujacic, has said he would resist extradition. A 72-hour period for Karadzic to launch a formal appeal started on Tuesday and expires on Friday, Vekaric said.
Vujacic said Karadzic intends to defend himself during his upcoming trial at the U.N. tribunal, with the help of a team of legal advisers, just as the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic did. Milosevic died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague.
The arrest of Karadzic, one of world's most-wanted men, was hailed by the U.S. and by European governments who applauded Serbia's new pro-Western leadership for the capture.
But in Belgrade, Serbian nationalists lashed out at authorities. Dozens of extremists took to the streets Tuesday, clashing with police during a protest in the capital.
Chanting "Treason!," the demonstrators threw stones and clay pots at riot police who cordoned them off. Five demonstrators and a policeman were injured, doctors at a Belgrade emergency clinic said.
"This is a hard day for Serbia," Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party said. "(Karadzic was) a legend of the Serbian people."
Nikolic vowed his party will do "all in its power" to topple the pro-Western government.
Serb officials say they arrested Karadzic on Monday evening near Belgrade. Karadzic had grown a long, white beard to conceal his identity and had lived freely for months in the capital before he was captured.
"His false identity was very convincing," said Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbia's war crimes prosecutor who coordinated the security forces arrest. "He had moved freely in public places."
Karadzic is sought on 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
While on the run in Serbia, he worked at a private clinic and wrote for a Belgrade magazine, according to Serbian officials.
To do all this, Karadzic used a false name - Dragan Dabic - government minister Rasim Ljajic told reporters Tuesday. Ljajic displayed a recent photo of an unrecognizable Karadzic with long, bushy white beard and gray hair.
Ljajic refused to reveal more details about Karadzic's arrest, saying his movements were being analyzed to help track down another top war crimes suspect still at large, Bosnian Serb wartime commander Ratko Mladic.
Karadzic appeared to be arrested because of a change in political will.
Serbian President Boris Tadic's pro-Western government came to power only two weeks ago and appointed a new security chief, replacing an aide to former nationalist prime minister Vojislav Kostunica.
European Union foreign ministers said the arrest helped Serbia's bid for membership in the bloc, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Karadzic's capture as a "historic moment."
Karadzic's whereabouts had been a mystery since he went on the run in 1998; his early hideouts reportedly included monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.
Karadzic's family in Bosnia, barred from leaving the country because of suspicions that they helped him elude capture, has asked to have those restrictions lifted, his daughter told The Associated Press.
More than 100,000 people died during Bosnia's war, and 1.8 million others were driven from their homes.
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill