Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic has been transferred to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, to stand trial for alleged atrocities committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.Mr. Karadžic, 63, was detained in Serbia last week, nearly 13 years after the first indictment against him was confirmed at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He faces charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts and other crimes related to his roles during the 1990s as the president of Republika Srpska, head of the Serbian Democratic Party and Supreme Commander of Bosnian Serb military forces, known as VRS.

Mr. Karadžic is being held at the UN Detention Unit in The Hague and is scheduled to appear before the tribunal on Thursday.

“The arrest of Radovan Karadžic is immensely important for the victims who had to wait far too long for this day,” ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in a statement issued today. “It is also important for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that there is no alternative to the arrest of war criminals and that there can be no safe haven for fugitives.”

Mr. Karadžic is indicted for the most serious crimes under international law: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, said the Prosecutor.

“He is charged with the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs from large areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina through the commission of the crimes alleged in the indictment. He is charged with a campaign of shelling and sniping to terrorise the civilian population of Sarajevo.

“He is also charged with the genocide committed in Srebrenica in July 1995 when close to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed. In addition, he is charged with taking UN peacekeepers and military observers hostage.”

Mr. Brammertz said his team is currently reviewing the indictment which was last amended in 2000. “We will ensure that it reflects the current case law, facts already established by the court and evidence collected over the past eight years.”

Hailing Mr. Karadžic’s arrest as a “major achievement” in Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal, the Prosecutor said he hoped it would lead to the arrest of the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic. “Without these arrests we cannot complete our mandate,” he stated.