THE HAGUE (AFP) — Photos of a thin, seemingly relaxed Radovan Karadzic, minus the beard and long hair he used to avoid detection, emerged Thursday hours before his first appearance in a UN court on genocide charges.
The former Bosnian Serb wartime leader was pictured in the Serbian Blic newspaper, looking at the camera and casually dressed in a light blue T-shirt bearing a small emblem of the US flag.
"It is him!" said the front-page headline of the daily, which said the picture was taken just prior to his transfer Wednesday from Belgrade to the UN war crimes court in The Hague, where he is indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The 63-year-old was to be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) later Thursday -- his first public appearance since his arrest in Serbia on July 21.
In the Blic pictures, Karadzic is clean shaven and his grey hair neatly cut. He is not wearing the big glasses that perched on his nose in photographs taken when on the run as Doctor Dragan Dabic, an alternative medicine guru.
Karadzic was "considerably thinner (and) noticeably finds it difficult to walk," said the text accompanying the exclusive photographs.
The images, it added, "did not give the impression that he was all too concerned."
Later on Thursday, Judge Alphons Orie will officially inform Karadzic of the 11 counts on the indictment.
During the hearing, which is scheduled for 1400 GMT, Karadzic will be given an opportunity to speak his first public words.
He will be asked to identify himself, to plead to the charges, and can address the judge on such issues as his detention conditions and arrest.
Karadzic has indicated his intention to conduct his own defence in the trial which is unlikely to start for many months.
His brother was quoted Thursday as saying the former Serb leader had prepared extensively for his defence while in hiding.
"He was well-prepared for his possible arrest and thinks everything will end well...." Luka Karadzic told the Russian daily Izvestia.
The authorities who captured Karadzic had confiscated his laptop and more than 50 discs containing documents prepared for his defence, his brother said, adding that Karadzic "hopes for help from Russian diplomacy".
Karadzic's arrest came 13 years after the ICTY first indicted him over atrocities committed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
He is notably accused of playing a leading role in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 dead, and in the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the UN-protected safe area of Srebrenica.
If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
As Karadzic was transferred to the tribunal's detention unit in The Hague on Wednesday, chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said his trial may not start for months.
"It will be a complex trial," Brammertz said. "In order to prove these serious crimes, the prosecution will have to present a significant amount of evidence including the testimony of many witnesses."
Serbia's justice ministry said Wednesday it had authorised Karadzic's transfer to the ICTY after a Belgrade court ruled "that all conditions have been met for the turnover," despite efforts by the defendant and his lawyers to delay the move.
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