Karadzic arrested!?

Breaking news in the last hour is that Radovan Karadzic has been arrested in Belgrade. Karadzic, you may recall, was the President of the Bosnian Serb Republic. He’s under indictment for about twenty different war crimes, and has been on the run since 1996.

Few details are available yet. The arrest was made in Belgrade earlier today. It’s not clear by whom. (The Serbian Ministry of the Interior, which controls the police, issued a brief statement saying it was not involved.) The Serbian government formally notified the Hague Tribunal this afternoon.

As always in these matters, there’s some mystery and confusion. Just last week, officials in both Serbia and the Republika Srpska had announced that they didn’t believe Karadzic was in their countries. This was actually plausible! The new Serbian government had just arrested another war criminal in Belgrade a few weeks ago. So you’d think Karadzic would have stayed well clear.

Was he simply stupid? Or was he lured back to Belgrade somehow? Or was he there all along? If the latter, then former Prime Minister Kostunica surely knew about it… and was lying his ass off to the Hague and the world for five years straight. I’m no fan of Kostunica, but I’d hate to think that.

On a personal note: for years my wife has said that Karadzic was living “down the street” from us back in the early 2000s. At that time, we were living in the street Golsfortieva (that’s Serbian for “Galsworthy”) in the neighborhood of Vracar in central Belgrade. She picked this up from talking with the neighbors, and for five years it’s been a running joke in our house. “Right down the street from us!” “Right, sure, yes, dear. Whatever, okay.”

Well, at least one source is claiming that the arrest was made in… the neighborhood of Vracar, in central Belgrade. Headline: Blogger’s Wife ‘Very Satisfied’ By Arrest.

Anyway. A day or two may pass without much news, as under Serbian law the accused has the right to challenge certain aspects of his arrest — most notably, whether or not he’s really the person in question.

Still: great news, if true.

19 thoughts on “Karadzic arrested!?

  1. Pingback: Jacob Christensen › Karadžić

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » The Balkans, Russia: Radovan Karadžić

  3. Hi Douglas,

    I came across your blog entry this morning about the Karadzic arrest – loved the line about your wife saying he lived “down the street”!

    Would either of you be interested in talking about the arrest? One or two of our news programmes might be interested in talking to you – particularly your experience of living there and the fact he could quite possibly have been living very close to you!

    If interested please get back to me on the email address provided.

    Trushar, BBC News interactive

  4. If the BBC get you on, make sure you mention that Paddy Ashdown was consistently overruled by his superiors at MI6 and the FCO whenever he broached the subject of maybe getting around to picking these guys up, whether the Serbian Army and interior ministry liked it or not?

  5. Gridlock, cite for that? I agree that Paddy had problems with the home office, but I wasn’t aware that he answered to MI6.

    Doug M.

  6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/mar/19/profiles.parliament

    He was also listed in the infamous “Tomlinson List” of serving MI6 officers. It’s not an unusual route, special forces > secret service and he has himself refused to comment on his connections to SIS.

    Quite a coup getting a serving (?) officer in control of a whole country, and at a Viceroy-like level of power too (benevolent dictator).

    If British Special Forces were hunting for Karadzic (as stated by Ashdown) then they didn’t do a very good job of it and you have to ask why that is, when even journalists knew which cafes he went to and where he lived.

    Having said that, “alternative medicine practitioner”??! Is he going for the Insanity defence?

  7. That’s very interesting! And you’re right, it is one common career path.

    Having said that, I have to note that the Guardian article is from 2001, while the list was what Tomlinson knew in 1996. So, it’s anybody’s guess what the relationship was during Paddy’s tenure a decade later.

    Also, why would MI6 not want Karadzic busted? (That’s not skepticism, exactly; I can think of several reasons. I’m just wondering which one is considered most likely.)

    Doug M.

  8. Ah, now that is the real question – but then motives always are, no?

    Very hard to discern motivations without all the facts, and I think that’s where we are with this (as with most things).

  9. “healingwounds @ dragandabic dot com”

    Good Lord. First create your clientele, then heal them. Sound business plan.

    I would love to see a psychological profile on this guy. Wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be one of those narcissistic guru types.

  10. “Narcissistic” fits.

    By all accounts Karadzic was intelligent and charming. Also vain — that wave took a lot of effort — pompous, and laboring under about three different interlinked inferiority complexes.

    So, in retrospect, this makes a lot of sense.

    Note that he’s gone to some effort (including controlling his weight) to produce an image close to that of a classic Orthodox abbot.

    Doug M.

  11. I think it’s worth pointing out his website, becuase it’s just plain bizarre:


    Answers the question of location too (if you know downtown Belgrade):

    “Dr. Dragan Dabic currently resides on Yury Gagarin street in New Belgrade”

    Other highlights:

    “In mid-1990s Dr. Dabic returned back to mother Serbia for good” [from a tour of India, China etc, apparently]

    Each and every of his 10 “personally selected” proverbs is dripping with irony, but I did like this one:

    “He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.”

  12. Great news. But hey, its pretty much the confirmation of what everybody already new. Karadzic was in Serbia under some kind of protection. Irony of the fate, Belgrade will probably get political concessions from the EU now. For lying for so long about hiding Karadzic.

  13. That leads me to a principal question.

    If it seems like the leaders of the losing side in any recent conflict are arrested and jailed, whom do we expect to sign peace treaties? Short of unconditional surrender that is.

  14. Oliver, amnesty for the Bosnian Serb leadership was mentioned in the peace discussions, way back in 1994-5.

    They weren’t interested.

    Doug M.

  15. They were not interested in a lot of things they should have been interested in their own interest, eg. even a minimum of good PR.
    So the shortcomings of the Bosnian Serb leadership should probably not be a basis of EU policy. The question remains. If we want peace we should make making peace attractive to those who have to make it. We are not doing so.

    Indeed we just looked on for years while the shooting lasted and that in a time without other military engagements. So how can any party in an armed conflict not draw the conclusion that it’s safest to keep the conflict going?

    So this may be a case of good feelings, probably help Serbian political climate in the long run, but how does it help the rest of the world, particularly the EU countries?

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