Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Serbian Officials Provide Details on Arrest of Karadzic

Rather amazing details are emerging on Karadzic. He was hiding in plain sight. He disguised himself to live and work in Belgrade as practitioner of alternative medicine, “freely walking in the city,” Serbian authorities said Tuesday. Mr. Karadzic had lived under the alias Dragon Dabic and had adopted a “very convincing” false identity, Mr. Ljajic said.

[Rasim Ljajic is responsible for Serbia’s relations with the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.]

Mr. Karadzic had lived under the alias Dragon Dabic and had adopted a “very convincing” false identity, Mr. Ljajic said. “How convincing his false identity was, we can tell you that he has been freely walking in the city, being very public about his appearance,” Mr. Vukcevic said. “Even the people he rented a flat from were unaware of who he was.”
Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

Rasim Ljajic, a senior government official,

showed a photo of Radovan Karadzic

during a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia.

More Photos >

The officials gave no details of the continuing hunt for Mr. Karadzic’s wartime ally, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is also being sought for trial in The Hague on genocide charges. Some analysts saw the arrest of Mr. Karadzic as an indication that Mr. Mladic would soon be seized. Natasha Kandic, director of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, said: “Now the door is open for the arrest of Mladic. After this, he probably won’t get any more official protection. This government has changed its policy. It’s an historical event.”

While the European Union generally welcomed Mr. Karadzic’s arrest, some officials struck a cautious note. “Things will be easier, but let’s not prejudge anything,” Reuters quoted French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as saying. “Karadzic has been arrested but Mladic has not.”

Prosecutors in The Hague and officials of the European Union have long suspected that he was, in fact, hiding in Serbia, and in recent years have pressed officials in Belgrade to hand him over. “This is a historic event,” said Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the agreements in Dayton, Ohio, to end the war in Bosnia in 1995. “Of the three most evil men of the Balkans, Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic, I thought Karadzic was the worst. The reason was that Karadzic was a real racist believer. Karadzic really enjoyed ordering the killing of Muslims, whereas Milosevic was an opportunist.”

Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia, called the arrest an “internal matter.”

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