TOPICS > Politics

Judge Orders Karadzic into U.N. Tribunal Custody

BY Admin  July 22, 2008 at 12:30 PM EDT

Radovan Karadzic in disguise; AP photo

Karadzic has three days to appeal the ruling that
would send him to the tribunal in The
Hague, Netherlands,
prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said. Karadzic’s lawyer Sveta Vujacic said he will
appeal the order.

Karadzic, 63, was arrested Monday night in a Belgrade suburb after
more than a decade on the lam, officials said Tuesday. Accused of masterminding
the deadly siege of Sarajevo
and the 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian enclave of
Srebrenica, Karadzic had topped the U.N. tribunal’s most-wanted list for more
than a decade.

By war’s end in late 1995, an estimated 250,000
people were dead and another 1.8 million driven from their homes. Under the
U.N. indictment, Karadzic faces 11 counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes
against humanity and other atrocities. He would be the 44th Serb suspect sent
to the tribunal. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who
died there in 2006 while on trial.

Karadzic had wanted Serb areas of Bosnia to be linked to Serbia and other areas dominated by Serbs at a
time when Milosevic was fanning nationalism in Serbia.

Disguised by a mane of white hair and glasses,
Karadzic moved freely while living in a new part of Belgrade and even practiced alternative
medicine at a private clinic, Serbian government official Rasim Ljajic said.
His whereabouts had been a mystery, with his hideouts reportedly including
monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.

Serbian officials showed reporters a photograph of
an unrecognizable Karadzic, looking thin, with a long, white beard, flowing
hair and thick glasses.

Serbian security services found him moving between Belgrade suburbs while
looking for another top war crimes suspect, Gen. Ratko Mladic, Ljajic said,
according to the Associated Press.

“He happily, freely walked around the
city,” Vukcevic said, according to Reuters. “Even his landlords were
unaware of his identity.”

The trained psychiatrist worked for a private
clinic, posing as a specialist in alternative medicine under the assumed name
of Dragan Dabic. His last known address was in New Belgrade, a sprawling suburb
of concrete tower blocks.

When news of his arrest spread, people in the
Bosnian capital Sarajevo
poured onto the streets in celebration.

“I called and woke up my whole family,”
said Sarajevo
resident Fadil Bico as cars honked horns and Bosnian state radio played
excerpts of Karadzic’s wartime hate speeches.

Munira Subasic, head of a Srebrenica widow’s
association said the arrest “is confirmation that every criminal will
eventually face justice.”

“I hope that people who had to keep quiet
because of Karadzic will start revealing the locations of mass graves and let
us find the truth about our loved ones,” she said.

Karadzic’s troops shelled Sarajevo in a 43-month siege that lasted
throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war and killed some 11,000 people. Residents
haggled for food and scurried over exposed street crossings to avoid snipers’
bullets.

“This is a very important
day for the victims who have waited for this arrest for over a decade,”
said Serge Brammertz, head prosecutor for the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal,
according to Reuters. “It is also an important day for international
justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the
law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice.”

Karadzic went underground in 1997
to evade the huge force of NATO peacekeepers that deployed in Bosnia at the
end of the war, with part of their mission to find and arrest him.

Karadzic was also charged over the shelling of Sarajevo and the use of
284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995.

International pressure to catch Karadzic mounted in
2005 when several of his former generals surrendered and a video of Bosnian
Serb soldiers shooting captives from Srebrenica shocked television viewers in
former Yugoslavia.

His arrest leaves Mladic and Croatian Serb suspect
Goran Hadzic still on the run. Serb officials have refused to give exact
details on the operation to arrest Karadzic, saying they did not want to blow
the chances of arresting Mladic and Hadzic.

“I appeal to the rest of The Hague indictees to surrender,”
Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said.

Karadzic’s arrest showed the two-week-old Serbian
government putting pragmatism over pride to help push Serbs toward joining the European
Union.

Many Serbs see the tribunal as biased and prone to
laying all the blame for the wars in Croatia,
Bosnia and Kosovo on Serbia, but
most are keenly aware of the practical benefits of EU membership for their
impoverished country.

Nationalists who see Karadzic and Mladic as
defenders of the Serb nation staged a few low-key protests.

“This is a dark day in Serbian history. Radovan
Karadzic is not a war criminal. He has become a legend,” said Tomislav
Nikolic of the nationalist Radicals.

Edin Hadyiahmetovic, who was a soldier for the
Bosnian army during the war, told the BBC News that everybody around him was
overjoyed to hear of the arrest.

“Serving for almost four years in the Bosnian
army, I have so many bad memories. My life in Sarajevo at that time was intolerable with no
food, power and water. Nobody can imagine how bad it was.”

In the northern Bosnian town of Kozarac, the organizer of a rock concert
interrupted the show to announce the news, only to receive laughter from the
audience and thumbs up for a good joke.

Zinaida Mahmuljin, who was in the audience, told the
AP it was only when mobile phones began ringing in the crowd and the news began
to circulate that people realized the announcement was true. Then the party
really started, she said.