‘Architect of mass murder,’ Serb arrested after 13 years
Radovan Karadzic stands accused of genocide against Muslims in the former Yugoslavia
Aileen McCabe, Canwest News Service; with files from Reuters; Agence France-Presse
Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide by the war-crimes tribunal in The Hague, was arrested Monday, bringing an end to a nearly 13-year search for a man wanted for his part in the massacre of thousands of civilians.
Serbian government sources said he had been under surveillance for several weeks after a tip from a foreign intelligence service.
“Karadzic was located and arrested,” the government said in a statement, which gave few details. It’s believed he was captured in Belgrade and is undergoing formal identification, including DNA testing.
“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 (ICTY),” it added.
A war-crimes official who requested anonymity said the 63-year-old had offered “no resistance” when he was arrested on Serbian territory, and appeared to have been in a “depressive mood,” according to Agence France- Presse.
People celebrated in the streets of Sarajevo on news of Karadzic’s arrest. State radio played excerpts of his speeches.
Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe who negotiated the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia, welcomed Karadzic’s capture, describing him as the Osama bin Laden of Europe, “a real, true architect of mass murder.”
The arrest came on the eve of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers scheduled to discuss closer relations with Serbia after the formation of a new pro-western government led by President Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party. The EU welcomed the capture as a milestone in Serbia’s EU aspirations.
Karadzic, who carved the “statelet” of Republika Srpska out of the Serbian areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, declared Pale his capital and named himself president. He’s charged with genocide stemming from the massacre in Srebrenica — where at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys were murdered — and with ethnic cleansing for driving tens of thousands of Muslims out of the Serb-held areas of Bosnia.
The expulsions were accompanied, according to international observers, by widespread killings, and up to 20,000 rapes in a calculated program of terror.
His indictment also includes the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which some 10,000 civilians were killed.
Along with his former military commander Ratko Mladic, Karadzic had evaded the ICTY since 1995, when they were charged with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war. Mladic is still at large.
With his impressive mane of steely grey hair, Karadzic was the most recognizable villain remaining at large from the war, and for that reason alone, many think he should have been caught long ago.
But stories abound that over the years, he has gone to amazing lengths to disguise himself. Several people claim he has shaved off his hair and often wears monk’s robes in public.
There were few sightings of Karadzic during his years on the run. He stepped down as president of Srpska in 1996, a week after The Hague Tribunal revealed the existence of a secret indictment against him and issued an international arrest warrant for him. He was seen once more in public a few months later, at his son’s baptism at a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Montenegro, and then he vanished
In 2002, reacting to international criticism that it was not even trying to catch Karadzic, the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia staged several raids on homes they said the fugitive had been hiding out in, but they failed to find him.
In 2004, when Carla Del Ponte, the chief UN war-crimes prosecutor, once again demanded that more effort be put into catching Karadzic, NATO troops and Serb police stepped up their search, but again to no avail.
Karadzic used his time underground productively, publishing a book of children’s poetry shortly after the raids in 2002, and the semi-autobiographical Miraculous Chronicles of the Night in 2004, which was a bestseller at the book fair in Belgrade.
The former president is said to have a whole network of supporters who are not tempted by the $5-million price on his head, and who are still willing to hide him, even after the international Srebrenica Commission ruled that the “massacre” he is charged with allowing to happen on his watch qualified as genocide.
There have long been rumours that Karadzic occasionally visits his wife and family in Pale, in Bosnia, but no reliable sightings. When his 83-year-old mother died, there was a flurry of speculation that he would somehow show up at her funeral in Montenegro, but he did not appear.
In 1990, when the ruling Communist party in Yugoslavia began to come apart at the seams, Karadzic was able to pick up the pieces in Bosnia with his Serbian Democratic Party.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
Radovan Karadzic: Poet, psychologist and architect of the slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys at Srebrenica
By Sophie Borland
Last updated at 8:57 AM on 22nd July 2008
Poet, psychologist and relentless Serb patriot, Radovan Karadzic was born in a stable in Savnik, Montenegro in 1945.
His father, Vuk, was in jail during much of his childhood.
Vuk had been a member of the Chetniks, the Serb nationalist guerillas who fought for the Allies against both Nazi occupiers and communist partisans in the Second World War.
Karadzic’s mother Jovanka has described her son as loyal, serious and a hard worker, who used to help her in the home and in the field. He was respectful towards the elderly and helped his school friends with their homework.
Wanted men: Radovan Karadzic, second right, and his general Ratko Mladic, first left, in April 1995
In 1960, Karadzic moved to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, where he graduated as a doctor and became a psychologist in a city hospital.
It was in Sarajevo that Karadzic met his wife, Ljiljana. But he also became a poet and fell under the influence of the Serb nationalist writer Dobrica Cosic, who encouraged him to go into politics.
Karadzic, who was also an enthusiastic player of a single-string Serbian instrument known as the ‘gusle’, became head of the Bosnian Serb Democratic Party in 1989.
The flamboyant, bouffant-haired leader showed few signs of the hatred to come. He regularly played high-stakes poker with his Muslim and Croat neighbours.
But amid the chaos and violence of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, his assertion of ‘historic Serbian rights’ led to appalling slaughter.
He is one of the most wanted men in the world and is accused of leading the murders of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
Victims of war: A graveyard in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war in February, 1994
Grim task: International forensic experts examine dozens of bodies in a mass gravelinked to the Srebrenica massacre
His forces slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995 in an horrific massacre.
He was also charged over the shelling and siege of Sarajevo which left thousands forced to eat grass to survive, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995, according to the United Nations.
Although he has twice been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, he has been in hiding since the end of the war in Bosnia in 1995 and until now has never been arrested.
It is thought that following the Dayton Agreement that ended the war, he immediately fled to the mountainous southeastern area of the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, where he was protected by paramilitaries.
Still popular: Serbian police officers arresting Karadzic’s supporter in front of the special court in Belgrade, Serbia, last night
After he went underground there were numerous reported sightings and many raids including some by the SAS to try and capture him.
But, thumbing his nose at the West, four years ago he was able to get a book published. Miraculous Chronicles of the Night, set in 1980s Yugoslavia, tells the story of a man jailed by mistake after the death of former Yugoslav strongman Josip Broz Tito.
The following year Bosnian investigators reported two separate sightings of Radovan Karadzic.
He was allegedly spotted with his wife Ljiljana in southeastern Bosnia and then with his brother Luka in Belgrade.
His wife then urged him to surrender saying that ‘enormous pressure’ had been put onto her.
There was increased pressure to capture him in Spring 2005 after a video of Bosnian Serb soldiers shooting hostages taken from Srebrenica was shown during the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic, former Yugoslav president.
Officials in the Serbian capital of Belgrade announced that they had captured several of Karadzic’s generals in connection with the footage but they never arrested the leader himself.
Mr Karadzic has always denied the charges against him claiming that the UN tribunal had been ‘created to blame the Serbs’.