Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BELGRADE, Serbia | Serbian newspapers published pictures Monday of a local healer who is the very image of the character war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic assumed to avoid capture until a week ago.

“I have no connection with Karadzic and have only seen him on television,” the man, Petar Glumac, was quoted as saying in the daily Alo.

“I have also been on television, but you will have to ask him personally as to the reason he copied [my appearance],” said Mr. Glumac, a resident of the northeastern Serbian village of Novo Selo.

Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Mr. Karadzic, 63, was captured in Belgrade on July 21, after more than a decade on the run from the U.N. war crimes tribunal, under the false name of Dragan Dabic and disguised as an alternative medicine guru.

His alter ego bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Glumac, who was pictured wearing thick glasses and a long white beard like Mr. Karadzic. Only their eyebrows differed, Mr. Karadzic’s black and Mr. Glumac’s white.

Karadzic “stole the style of Uncle Pera,” an unidentified neighbor of Mr. Glumac’s was quoted as saying in the report, using his nickname.

Mr. Glumac, 78, said Austrian police had detained him in Vienna last year. That could explain weekend reports in Vienna newspapers that cited Austrian detectives as saying they thought they had questioned Mr. Karadzic in May 2007, after seeing the Karadzic disguise pictures released by Belgrade.

Serbia hopes to transfer Mr. Karadzic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague later this week. He stands indicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Meanwhile, ultranationalists are planning a huge anti-government rally in Serbia’s capital Tuesday evening, and Mr. Karadzic’s attorney predicted the government will try to whisk him off to the U.N. tribunal before the protest, the Associated Press reported.

Belgrade was rife with fears there could be clashes in the streets Tuesday evening as the ultranationalists plan to prevent the extradition of Mr. Karadzic.

The rally organizers - the right-wing Serbian Radical Party - are busing Karadzic supporters in from all over Serbia and Bosnia where he is revered by many as a wartime hero who helped create the Bosnian Serb mini-state after the bloody 1992-95 war.

The last time the nationalists organized a rally against Western countries that recognized Kosovo’s independence in February, the U.S. Embassy was partly burned and protesters went on a looting spree, smashing shops and McDonald’s restaurants in Belgrade.

Ivana Ramic, the spokeswoman for the court in Belgrade dealing with Mr. Karadzic’s case, said Monday that his appeal against the extradition to the U.N. court had not arrived by the time the court had closed for the day.

Karadzic attorney Svetozar Vujacic said he mailed the appeal at the last possible moment late Friday, trying to delay Mr. Karadzic’s extradition to the U.N. tribunal until after the rally.

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