BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia's justice minister says the last Balkan war crimes suspect, Goran Hadzic, has been extradited to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
Snezana Malovic says she signed the extradition order on Friday for the former Croatian Serb leader who is wanted for atrocities stemming from the 1991-95 war in Croatia.
Malovic said, "at this moment the plane is already on its way to The Hague tribunal."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A convoy of jeeps and police cars left the detention unit of the Serbian war crimes court on Friday, reportedly taking the last Balkan war-crimes suspect to visit his sick mother before he is extradited to the U.N. tribunal.
There was no immediate official confirmation that former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic was in the convoy, which arrived at Belgrade's international airport shortly before noon.
Hadzic's lawyer, Toma Fila, told The Associated Press that his client likely will be sent to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, on Friday.
The official Tanjug news agency reported the convoy stopped in the northern city of Novi Sad and that there was a heavy police presence blocking the streets near the family home. Other relatives visited Hadzic in his prison cell earlier Friday.
Serbian special police have deployed along the highway leading north of Belgrade, in an indication that the extradition process is imminent.
Hadzic was arrested on Wednesday after seven years on the run, discovered by Serbian agents who had followed a money trail that began in December when Hadzic's aides tried to sell a Modigliani painting.
He is wanted for atrocities stemming from Croatia's 1991-95 war, including the leveling of Vukovar and the massacre of some 200 Croat prisoners of war after the devastation of the town on the Danube.
His arrest followed that of former Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic on genocide charges nearly two months ago. The top war crimes suspect was allowed to visit his daughter's grave only hours before he was sent to the Hague.
Hadzic's arrest has been hailed as the symbolic closure of a horrific chapter in Balkan history and an important step toward the former pariah state of Serbia joining the European Union.