A soda with Karadzic

Just wanted to link to this post about meeting Radovan Karadzic in prison. The writer comes across as a bit naive — gosh, the ICTY cell block is dingy! Karadzic, a former politician turned New Age guru, comes across as charming and at ease with himself! — but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Key point for me: his claim that Karadzic won’t try to turn his trial into a circus as Seselj and Milosevic did. Color me skeptical on that one. We’ll see soon enough.

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.

And then there were three

Unexpected good news from Serbia: police have picked up Stojan Zupljanin, one of the four remaining war crimes suspects still at large.

Zupljanin is a pretty good catch. He was a medium-big fish: a police administrator in Yugoslav times, he became head of all police in the Serb part of Bosnia. He was deeply involved in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats, and then a bit later he had administrative authority over the detention camps where hundreds died and thousands more were beaten, starved and tortured. (A copy of the ICTY indictment against him can be found here.) You could maybe call him the Ernst Kaltenbrunner of wartime Bosnia.

There was a € 250,000 Euro award for his arrest; it’s not clear who, if anyone, is collecting this. In fact, the circumstances of his arrest are still murky. He was picked up in Pancevo, a suburb of Belgrade — it’s just across the Danube to the north. Continue reading

An unpleasant anecdote from 1999

Via the invaluable B92 website comes a nasty little story from Albania.

In her book, “The Hunt”, to be published in Italy on April 3, the former Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte states that, during investigations into war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, against Serbs and other non-Albanians, the prosecutor’s office was informed that persons who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict were used in organ smuggling operations.

Yah, that’s right. Organ smuggling.

More below the cut. Continue reading

Balkan War Criminals: First the good news…

The good news is, last week Serbia handed over a fellow named Zdravko Tolimir. Tolimir, a Bosnian Serb, was a top aide to wanted war criminal Ratko Mladic.

This is good news not only because Tolimir is a wrong’un — he’s under indictment on counts of genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, and was the third most wanted suspect after the two headliners, Karadzic and Mladic — but also because both Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Republic cooperated in getting him and handing him over. For Serbia, that’s the first evidence of real cooperation with the Hague since 2005. For Bosnia… well, it’s the first time the Serb Republic’s police have helped catch a war criminal, ever.

It may be because Serbia has a new government; or because they’re hoping to re-start talks with the EU (stalled for over a year now, because of that same lack of cooperation); or because they’re hoping to score points as the Kosovo issue comes up in the UN this month. Whatever he reason, it’s very welcome.

If only that were all the war criminal news this week. Unfortunately not. Just a day before Tolimir was picked up, convicted war criminal Radovan Stankovic escaped from prison.

This is bad in a variety of ways. Continue reading

The Horse-Trading Model

Earlier in the week Doug Muir posted on the generally negative attitude most Austrians seem to have towards EU enlargement. Others in comments have been suggesting that it is important not to go soft on human rights issues in the case of Turkey’s application. Well……

According to the French newspaper Le Figaro (as reported in EUPolitix) “Croatia forms part of the total bargaining on Turkey.” (that’s a quote from an anonymous diplomat btw).
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Report from European Parliament

I promised to report back here on the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee meeting today on Croatia. It took place immediately after the EU Foreign Ministers had announced that because of Croatia’s failure to deliver fugitive general Ante Gotovina to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague, negotiations on Croatia’s EU membership will not begin tomorrow.

To my surprise, the main speaker from the Croatian side was not their Chief Negotiator, Vladimir Drobnjak, but the Prime Minister himself, Ivo Sanader. He made an extremely good impression on MEPs. I personally was much less impressed; he told three blatant untruths in his opening remarks, which disinclines me to take particularly seriously any of his statements about how hard his government is really looking for the fugitive general.
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Crunch for Croatia

Hi folks, I am your guest blogger for the next two weeks. I hope you’ll allow me to be a little coy about my identity; but I do work in Brussels, in the general field of international politics.

I usually forget to check the European Parliament’s calendar of next week’s events on Friday afternoon, though really I should do it as a matter of routine, to plan ahead for the coming week. (And really they should have a direct link from the front page of their website, rather than three clicks away; but there’s not much point in wasting blogspace on stating the obvious about the crap design of the EU institutions’ websites.)

Along with the usual tedium of schedules for a conference in Cairo that nobody I know will go to, and such marvels as the European Parliament’s desperate attempt to make itself relevant to the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, there is one potentially very interesting meeting on the agenda.
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