Charged with crimes against humanity; genocide; war crimes
Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic is seen as the mastermind of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Karadzic was born in Montenegro in 1945. His father fought with the Serb nationalist guerrilla movement against Nazi occupiers in World War II but was jailed after Marshall Tito rose to power. Karadzic’s father spent much of his son’s childhood in prison.
Karadzic moved to Sarajevo in 1960, where he wrote poetry and studied medicine. He became a psychologist at a city hospital but continued to write. He became drawn to politics under the influence of Serb nationalist writer Dobrica Cosic, who wrote passionately about how the Serbs were affected by the two world wars.
Following the break up of Yugoslavia at the beginning of the 1990s, Karadzic was a founding member of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), a party dedicated to the goal of a Greater Serbia. In 1990 he became president of the SDS, and in 1992 he declared the creation of the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with himself as head of state.
Karadzic is now one of the most wanted men in the world. As president and commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, he is accused of orchestrating some of the most atrocious crimes of the war in Bosnia, including the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in Srebrenica in July 1995. He is also implicated in the nearly four-year siege of Sarajevo, and for using 284 U.N. peacekeepers as human shields. At the end of the war in 1995, he was indicted for war crimes along with his military leader, General Ratko Mladic. He stepped down as president in 1996 and went into hiding.
Karadzic has denied the charges against him and denounced the legitimacy of the U.N. tribunal, accusing it of being a partisan political body united against the Serbs.