London (CNSNews.com) - Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was on his way to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague Thursday night, just hours after the country's constitutional court suspended a government decree paving the way for his extradition.
A spokesperson at the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia confirmed by phone from the Netherlands that Milosevic was in the custody of tribunal authorities in Belgrade and was "on his way to The Hague."
She said the tribunal would make an announcement "once he's in the detention unit. We will not say he has landed and been transferred or things like that. For security reasons we will not give out that information."
Milosevic had been held in Belgrade's Central Prison since April 1 while the reformist government that replaced him last year pondered legal steps against him.
President Vojislav Kostunica was long reluctant to hand him over to the U.N. tribunal, but came under increasing Western pressure to do so.
With an international donor conference looming in Belgium Friday, the government earlier this week approved a decree enabling it to cooperate with the tribunal.
Following that move, Washington confirmed Wednesday that the U.S. would participate in the summit, where Belgrade hopes to secure $1 billion in aid to help rebuild an economy ravaged by war and sanctions.
Thursday's surprise development came hours after the constitutional court said it required two weeks to study an appeal by Milosevic's lawyers against the extradition decree.
Following the ruling, the government held a meeting to discuss the matter.
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic then emerged to tell reporters: "The former president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been handed over to The Hague authorities."