TOPICS > Politics

Details Emerge on the Capture of Radovan Karadzic

July 22, 2008 at 6:35 PM EDT

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, the capture of one of the world’s best-known war crimes fugitives. Our coverage begins with a report from Bill Neely of Independent Television News in Belgrade.

BILL NEELY, ITN’S ITV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: These photos have sent shockwaves through the Balkans and beyond, because Radovan Karadzic has certainly changed his appearance, but he wasn’t hiding it. It’s the face of a well-known doctor living in the heart of Serbia’s capital.

This was Radovan Karadzic 12 years ago at the height of his power. Since then, he’s become one of the world’s most wanted men, until justice, in the shape of Serbian secret police, caught up with him.

The Serb authorities showed off his photos. They had finally moved against the man in their midst.

“We were following a group of people, part of a network,” he says, “that was helping Karadzic.” He was using a false identity, Dragan Dabic, a doctor.

The photos and Karadzic have now been handed to Serbia’s own war crimes prosecutor. Karadzic heard the charges against him, including 11 counts of genocide. He has three days to appeal.

The gravest charges relate to this: the mass murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Karadzic is charged with organizing it, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

Exactly how Karadzic evaded arrest for 11 years isn’t known, but some of the world’s most powerful armies scoured Bosnia for him, spies, satellites and troops failing to find a man who had the active help of the Serbian Orthodox Church to hide in monasteries.

But once on the run, Karadzic eluded the authorities. Serbs didn’t want to capture him; NATO forces tried fitfully, one raid as late as three months ago.

Radovan Karadzic practiced openly in Belgrade as a new-age doctor. The man who directed the mass murder of his fellow Bosnians wrote for Healthy Life magazine.

The man supposedly in hiding gave an open air lecture two months ago. He was regarded as an expert in meditation, calmness and silence, but he brought death, destruction and havoc to Bosnia.

And soon he will have his day in a war crimes court.

Safe are becomes killing zone

JIM LEHRER: We have two more reports on what took place in Srebrenica and in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. They contain disturbing images. The first is about Srebrenica from Nick Paton Walsh of Independent Television News.

NICK PATON WALSH: It was the first safe area created for Bosnia's persecuted Muslims, but Karadzic's army paid little mind to these blue helmets and their promise of safety.

Bosnian Serb forces imposed a stranglehold on the enclave. And by July, people were starving, as 600 Dutch peacekeepers here charged with protecting the enclave came under fire.

NATO tried to hit back with air strikes on July the 11th, but stopped when they realized Bosnian Serbs held Dutch soldiers hostage. Karadzic's men felt they had a free hand.

Five frenetic days followed in which 8,000 men were murdered.

These young Muslims were brought here by Bosnian Serb soldiers, a unit called the Scorpions. They filmed these pictures of their handiwork. Some here are already bloodied. And this man, Asmir (ph), is age just 16.

Insults, then they lie down, surely knowing what awaits. We won't show the graphic executions that follow here, but they did on Serb television, their terror caught in their inertia. The horror of the Karadzic past, the still living move the dead.

Across Srebrenica, the charges against Karadzic alleged thousands of Bosnian Muslim men were murdered between the 12th and 18th of July, 1995, at at least 11 enclaves in and around the Srebrenica enclave.

Here today in Potocari, they tend the graves of Srebrenica's dead, the arrest perhaps bringing this horrific chapter of the region's history slightly closer to an end.

MICHAEL NICHOLSON: For three-and-a-half years, they lived under constant bombardment from the Serbian artillery on the mountains surrounding them and vicious street fighting within the city.

Schools, hospitals, markets were their random targets. There really was nowhere to hide. This, one Saturday morning, as people queued up for bread. It seemed that the Serb gunners reserved busy Saturdays for their most lethal attacks.

What people feared most were the snipers. They took aim from the rooftops in the Serb quarter of the city, and they seldom missed.

We called this Sniper Alley, and you traveled it at your peril. You didn't pause to cross. Hesitate, and you were dead.

Too often, the hospitals resembled morgues. And too often, it was the children who filled them.

It was some measure of the Serbs' determination to crush these people that they even targeted the orphanages. It was no accident they knew exactly where they were. I found one with 200 children in the cellar. They hadn't seen light or fresh air for a month.

But if there is one picture that can properly claim to have accelerated the end of the war, it is this: Muslim prisoners of war at Ramaska (ph). It looked so much like a Nazi concentration camp, it shocked the world and its leaders, and it marked the beginning of the end.

Karadzic's arrest will be welcomed by the Muslims of Sarajevo, but this is still a city where racial and religious conflict still simmers.