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Belgrade Has Mixed Emotions About Karadzic Trial


The people in Belgrade have reacted with mixed emotions to Radovan Karadzic's first appearance at the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague Thursday. As Stefan Bos reports for VOA from Belgrade, the infamy of Karadzic is even generating some commercial interest.

Not everyone in Belgrade is interested to see the world's most wanted war crimes suspect appear on television at the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.

In a pub near the detention center from where ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was extradited Wednesday, Serbs were watching a football match instead.

Belgrade resident Rajko Mitric understands their reluctance to see the man who is on trial on charges that include genocide related to the killing of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

He says he is not going to watch the trial on television because in his words "there is nothing new to be seen." He adds, "I have seen the the trial of leaders such as former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. And I have noticed that the trial at the Tribunal was not fair. It is a political trial."

Karadzic appeared for the first time Thursday at the U.N. Tribunal in The Hague. During the appearance, he waived his right to an attorney in the courtroom.

Some are pleased with the television coverage, for business reasons.

A Belgrade tourism agency is hoping to cash in on the Karadzic notoriety by launching a sightseeing tour to the apartment where Karadzic lived while practicing alternative medicine, as well as to the nearby cafe and grocery store he visited.

Dragana Tubic is the manager of the tour:

"The tourists, like they say, want to see the building, the cafe, to see where he spend his time," said Dragana Tubic. "That is why we organize this. It is not something political that we propose."

Officials say the negotiations center around whether to open the apartment to the public for a fee, and perhaps even allow people to sleep there.

They hope news about the UN tribunal and Karadzic will help spark interest in other things Serbian, including the the country's cultural heritage.

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