Serbia says war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic avoided capture for
some 13 years by living under a false identity in the Serbian capital
Belgrade and practicing alternative medicine. Stefan Bos reports for
VOA from Budapest.
People in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, many
of whom lived through the Balkan conflict, have celebrated the arrest
of one of the world's most wanted war crimes suspects, Radovan
The former leader of Bosnian Serbs had been in
hiding since 1995, when he allegedly oversaw the massacre of up to
8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Europe's worst single atrocity
since World War II took place after Serb forces under his control
overran the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Prosecutors say it was part of
a plan to carry out ethnic cleansing and bring Muslim areas under
Karadzic was charged by the United Nations
War Crimes Tribunal with genocide and and a number of other crimes
against humanity for these and other atrocities.
Karadzic, who was a trained psychiatrist, managed to escape capture by
living under a false name and hiding his face behind a white long
beard. So convincing was his false identity, Serbian officials say, he
had moved freely in public without being recognized.
practiced alternative medicine at a private clinic and lived in
Belgrade, says Serbia's minister for UN Tribunal relations, Rasim
Ljajic. "Karadzic used a false identity and a false document. He used
the name Dragan Dabic. He worked in a private practices. And the last
place where he had a residence was in New Belgrade."
Karadzic's detention has been welcomed by the European Union, United Nations and the United States.
former Balkan peace negotiator, Richard Holbrooke, said in televised
remarks that his arrest can be compared with the search for Osama bin
Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks
against the United States. "Karadzic was of all the bad men in the
Balkans, he was the one I personally thought was the worst. I don't
think there is anyone on earth other than bin Laden who is better to
capture than this guy," he said.
Karadzic's war time commander
Ratko Mladic, who tops the most-wanted list, remains at large, although
Western and Serbian officials suggests his days at large are now
Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic has told reporters
it will take time before the wounds are healed of the Balkan's recent
history and his country can become a multi-ethnic society. "For justice
to be complete we must erase the consequences of this genocide in
Bosnia. [Former Serbian President] Milosevic's and Karadic's projects
still live on in Bosnia," he said.
But survivors of the
Srebrenica massacre say Karadzic's arrest will help them to grieve over
the loss of those they loved with more peace in their heart, as justice
may finally be done.
A Serbian judge has ordered Karadzic's
transfer to the UN war crimes court in The Hague, but his lawyer has
said he will appeal against that ruling within the next three days.
supporters staged a noisy protest in Belgrade, skirmishing with police
and denouncing the pro-Western Serbian government as "traitors."