After over 10 years of living as a fugitive, Radovan Karadzic has been captured and arrested. Karadzic was arrested Monday night near Belgrade after a tip from foreign intelligence officials and criminal defence lawyers led to the location of Karadzic’s safehouse. The police then surveilled Karadzic for weeks prior to his arrest. This marks an important milestone for both Serbia and family members of the victims killed during the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Coming 11 days after the 13th memorial of the Srebrenica massacre, many Bosnians celebrated in the streets at the news of Karadzic’s arrest.
Munira Subasic, a mother who lost two sons in the Srebrenica massacre, was overcome with emotion as she watched the news on television.
“After 13 years, we finally reached the moment of truth,” she told AP Television News. If Karadzic is extradited to the tribunal in The Hague, he would be the 44th Serb suspect sent there. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial on war crimes charges, (“Top War Crimes Fugitive Radovan Karadzic Arrested in Serbia,” FOX News, 22 July 2008).
The White House commented on the arrest, stating, “There is no better tribute to the victims of the war’s atrocities than bringing their perpetrators to justice,” (“Top War Crimes Fugitive Radovan Karadzic Arrested in Serbia,” FOX News, 22 July 2008).
Richard Holbrooke, the negotiator of the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian War, spoke on Karadzic’s arrest, stating, “This is a historic event. Of the three most evil men of the Balkans, Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic, I thought Karadzic was the worst. The reason was that Karadzic was a real racist believer. Karadzic really enjoyed ordering the killing of Muslims, whereas Milosevic was an opportunist,” (“Bosnian Serb Under Arrest in War Crimes,” The New York Times, 22 July 2008).
Karadzic was indicted in 1995, however, he has been hiding throughout the Balkans–usuing caves in Bosnia and various disguises. It is believed that he remained unarrested due to the Nationalist Party’s power within Serbia and radical members’ view of Karadzic as a hero. The current pro-Western coalition government in Serbia–installed a month ago–removed the nationalist official who was in control of the office of the secret police–the branch of police in charge of arresting war criminals. This internal change of personnel made the arrest of Karadzic possible.
The shift in attitude and policy is generally connected with Serbia’s aim to enter the European Union. The European Union has put intense pressure on the Serbian government to turn over war criminals to the Hague prior to moving forward with EU accession. Hence, the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic are viewed as a precondition for membership within the EU. The arrest of Karadzic was a large step toward entry within the European body.
However, Karadzic’s arrest is not only a requirement for Serbia to move forward with EU accession, but also a requisite for transitional justice. Justice for the family members of victims killed, tortured or raped during the Bosnian war is necessary before they can begin to heal the wounds of the past.
Munira Subasic, head of a Srebrenica widow’s association, illustrates the importance of attaining justice even a decade after conflict. “The arrest of Radovan Karadzic is confirmation that every criminal will eventually face justice,” (“Top Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Karadzic arrested,” Reuters, 22 July 2008).
Karadzic in Disguise as Dragan Dabic
Posted By Nicole Slezak
Posted Jul 22nd, 2007