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Prosecutors Prepare to Try Former Serb Leader Karadzic

The ex-leader of Bosnian Serbs, responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the region's war, has been transferred to U.N. custody. Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke and author Laura Silber discuss what Radovan Karadzic's arrest means for the region.

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    For more on Karadzic and his capture, we're joined by two veterans of the Yugoslav conflict: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke served in the State Department during the Clinton administration and he was the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords which ended the war in Bosnia.

    And Laura Silber covered the Bosnian war for the Financial Times. She's the author of "Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation." She's now at the Open Society Institute and travels frequently to the Balkans.

    Welcome to you both. Laura, beginning with you, how pivotal a figure over and above the war crimes charges was Karadzic in creating and sustaining this era? In other words, did he drive the conflict or simply exploit it?

  • LAURA SILBER, Policy Adviser, Open Society Institute:

    Karadzic was a huge figure. He was a figure in the sense of really the symbolic figure and the actual leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the run-up to the war and during the war.

    So I think he was quite important. Whether at times he held all the instruments of power in his hands is debatable, but I think he was certainly in control and was the spiritual guide for the Bosnian Serbs, really had genuine popular support for a time.


    Ambassador Holbrooke, do you agree he really was the driving force in this? And what was his aim ultimately?

  • RICHARD HOLBROOKE, Former U.S. Ambassador:

    Of the three men of evil in the Balkans — Mladic, Milosevic, and Karadzic — I always felt that Karadzic was the worst.

    As Laura correctly said, he was the intellectual. He really believed in ethnic cleansing. He was the poet, psychiatrist, New York-educated who was their leader.

    Milosevic was an opportunist, a former communist. They needed each other, of course. Karadzic couldn't have done it without the regular Yugoslav army and Mladic's own involvement. But Milosevic himself couldn't have done it without some really awful man like Karadzic.

    This is a historic event, his capture. Two down, Milosevic dead, Karadzic headed to the Hague, one to go, Ratko Mladic.