My neighbour Radovan Karadzic

Posted on July 22, 2008


Jasmina Tesanovic

Radovan Karadzic, the poet of Serbian war crimes, one of the two
most wanted criminals in the Balkans, the guy with fluffy locks, was
captured last night in Belgrade, Serbia.

According to the first rumors, he was found in my own neighborhood,
where he supposedly frequented in a popular right-wing restaurant
where people from NGOs were unwelcome.

Karadzic is currently held in the special court for war crimes in
Belgrade, and is about to be extradited to the international war
crime tribunal in The Hague. Slobodan Milosevic preceeded him in this
same course some years ago.

To judge by the chatter on my B92 blog and the phone messages I get
from my friends: as I long suspected, “Europe’s Osama bin Laden” and
I have been neighbors. We shared the same food, saw the same
beggars in downtown Belgrade where he had been hiding all these
years, a genocidal butcher disguised as a New Age quack.

A journalist who lives close to me sent me an sms: Karadzic must have
been drinking beer with our gypsy neighbor in the street. As we all
suspected, or as some of us surely knew: Karadzic was hiding from
justice behind our names and our daily lives, using the Serbian
population as his living shields.

The new Pro-European government in Serbia had to split with that
covert policy. Thus do the democrats reward the long-suffering
voters who gave them the lead against their nationalist rivals. Even
the ex-Milosevic Socialist party seems to be in on the deal.

Radovan Karadzic, poet, psychiatrist and planetary war criminal
number one, effectively vanished in 1996. His General, Ratko
Mladic, is still on the run. Karadzic and Mladic were the
architect and the builder of the genocide in Srebrenica, where 8 000
men and boys were killed in three days.

Last night the long-missing fugitive was formally interrogated
in the special tribunal for war crimes in Belgrade. This is the same
court where, two years ago, I followed the trial of the paramilitary
group the Scorpions, participants in the genocide in Srebrenica.
Karadzic’ s name was often mentioned by the Scorpions with hushed

A couple of months before the Scorpions were arrested in
2005, police burst in the house of the Karadzic family, briefly
arresting his son. On this occasion his wife publicly asked her
husband to give himself up for justice. The myth around his dark
character was that he would never give himself alive, but die a
suicidal martyr for the sake of his family and the cause of the
Bosnian Serbs.

Karadzic never lacked for supporters. Shouting groups of right-
winged hooligans spent the night outside the war crimes court,
chanting his name and demanding that Boris Tadic, the President,
commit suicide and therefore save Serbia. The militants were
supervised by a heavy police presence and the crowd soon broke up.

International politicians such as Richard Holbrooke are
congratulating the Serbian government for this important action,
delayed and obstructed all these years. Men resembling Karadzic
have often reported in various parts of Serbia and Bosnia, and
various allegedly accomplices were brought to court for aiding and
abetting both Karadzic and Mladic. It was obvious that they were both
protected by powerful local allies, and it is presumed that
Karadzic was arrested yesterday thanks to the betrayal of some
insider. There is still an outstanding American bounty of 5
million dollars for the arrest of either Karadzic or Mladic ; for
twelve years the tempting hoard of cash was never claimed by anyone.

Karadzic is defending himself with silence — but not a complete
silence. He has claimed that his arrest was a “farce,” and that he
was detained three days ago by masked men, and kept prisoner in a
small cell.

In a morning press conference more details were revealed by Rasim
Ljajic, a Serbian government official responsible for cooperation
with The Hague. According to Ljajic, Radovan Karadzic, who is
officially a Bosnian, has been living in Belgrade as a Serbian
citizen, under false identity, and with a new name — “Dragan
Dabic.” “Dr. Dabic” has been working as a doctor of “alternative
medicine” in a private clinic.

Thin, bespectacled, balding and heavily bearded, Dr Dabic was
moving freely in Belgrade. Workers at the clinic deny they knew his
real identity. He seems to have been shadowed and arrested while
trying to change apartments.

The world is in deadly earnest about Radovan’s “farce,” as
congratulations pour in for President Tadic, the police and the
Serbian justice system. The Hague will never be popular in Serbia,
especially when Bosnian alleged war criminal Naser Oric was released
despite attacks on Serbs. In the shattered ruins of Yugoslavia
there will never be a neat equalizing of the blame, but this event is
a giant step toward a living role for a peaceful, democratic Serbia
within a modern Europe.