Radovan Karadzic, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity, was arrested on Monday night after more than a decade on the run from international justice.

One of the world’s most wanted men, he was captured in Serbia by Serbian security officers, according to a statement issued by the office of Boris Tadic, the Serbian president.

Mr Karadzic, who is 63, was taken before a special war crimes court in Belgrade as a prelude to his expected rapid transfer to the United Nations’ war crimes court in The Hague .

“Karadzic was brought to the investigative judge of the war crimes court in Belgrade , in accordance with the law on co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ,” Mr Tadic’s office said.

Mr Karadzic’s arrest will bring relief to Bosnia ’s Muslims and Croats, who saw him as the monster who provoked the 1992-95 civil war that costs tens of thousands of lives. It will also give a boost, in Serbia , to Mr Tadic’s European Union-oriented bloc that ousted nationalists from the government in recent elections. But it will anger conservative Serbs, in Bosnia and Serbia , who saw Mr Karadzic as a national hero.

His capture will prompt new calls for efforts to seize General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serbs’ military commander, who is now one of only two remaining fugitive alleged war criminals from the wars in former Yugoslavia still sought by international prosecutors.

Both Mr Karadzic, a former psychiatrist, and Gen Mladic have evaded capture since they were charged by international prosecutors at the end of the Bosnian War in 1995.

Mr Karadzic is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The worst crimes on his indictment are the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo , in which some 10,000 civilians were killed, and the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim males in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995.