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Wife of Fugitive Bosnian Serb Leader Urges Him to Surrender


The wife of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who has been indicted for genocide by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, has appealed to him to surrender for the sake of his family. Ljiljana Karadzic made the appeal during a television interview that was broadcast on several stations in the former Yugoslavia.

A tearful Ljiljana Karadzic says it is painful and difficult for her to ask her husband to give himself up but that she has no other choice. She says the time has come for him to surrender for the sake of his family.

"Our family is under constant pressure from all sides," she said. "We are in danger, both in terms of our lives and our financial situation. We live in a constant atmosphere of worry, pain and suffering."

In recent weeks, Karadzic family homes have been raided by NATO-led forces, and Radovan Karadzic's son, Aleksander, was detained for a week by peacekeeping troops. NATO says he is involved in the Serb nationalist network that has helped his father evade arrest for several years.

Ljiljana Karadzic, who has been a staunch backer of her husband, says she just cannot put up with that kind of strain any longer.

"It hurts me to beg you, but I am still doing so, and I am begging you with all my heart and soul to surrender. It will be your sacrifice for us, for the sake of your family," she added.

Radovan Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s, has been indicted for genocide and other war crimes by The Hague tribunal. He is believed to be hiding close to the border between Bosnia and Montenegro. His former military commander, Ratko Mladic, who has also been indicted for genocide, is a fugitive, too.

Diplomats monitoring the Balkans in Brussels say Mrs. Karadzic's appeal could either be an attempt to relieve the increasing pressure on the family or a sign that her husband may be preparing to give himself up.

Duska Anastasijevic, a writer for the independent weekly Vreme in Belgrade, believes that it is an attempt by Radovan Karadzic to make sure his family is protected in case he eventually surrenders.

"This is a hint of the possibility that he might decide to surrender, but, in return he would ask for total protection of his family, that the stigma be lifted from his family, and, it's not excluded, some financial reward for that," she explained.

Ms. Anastasijevic says the families of other war crimes suspects have been offered money by Serbian and Bosnian Serb government officials in order to encourage their surrender.

NATO and the European Union (EU) have told both Bosnia and Serbia and Montenegro that they will not even be considered for membership until Dr. Karadzic and General Mladic are turned over to the war crimes tribunal.

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