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Radovan Karadzic

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020808 - BBC -
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has long been one of the most wanted men in the world.

His arrest has come after nearly 13 years on the run - during which time Serbia has come under increasing international pressure to catch him.

Accused of leading the slaughter of thousands of Bosniaks and Croats, he has twice been indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The UN says his forces killed at least 7,500 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995 as part of a campaign to "terrorise and demoralise the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat population".

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

After the Dayton accord that ended the Bosnian war, the former nationalist president went into hiding - possibly in the mountainous south-eastern area of the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, protected by paramilitaries.

"If The Hague was a real juridical body I would be ready to go there... but it is a political body that has been created to blame the Serbs" - Radovan Karadzic

International pressure to capture Mr Karadzic mounted in spring 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.

Belgrade announced several arrests in connection with the video, which was first shown during the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

In early 2007, Nato troops in Bosnia-Hercegovina raided the homes of Mr Karadzic's children, saying they believed Sasa and Sonja Karadzic to be part of a network supporting their father.

Mr Karadzic has denied the charges against him and refused to recognise the legitimacy of the UN tribunal.

"If The Hague was a real juridical body I would be ready to go there to testify or do so on television, but it is a political body that has been created to blame the Serbs," he told the UK-based newspaper The Times in February 1996.

'Head of state'

Mr Karadzic was born in 1945 in a stable in Savnik, Montenegro.

KARADZIC'S CV

1945: Born in Montenegro

1960: Moves to Sarajevo

1968: Publishes collection of poetry

1971: Graduates in medicine

1983: Becomes team psychologist for Red Star Belgrade football club

1990: Becomes president of SDS party

1992-1995: Bosnian war

2008: Arrested in Serbia

His father, Vuk, had been a member of the Chetniks - Serb nationalist guerrillas who fought against both Nazi occupiers and Tito's communist partisans in World War II - and was in jail for much of his son's childhood.

His mother, Jovanka Karadzic, described her son as loyal, and a hard worker who used to help her in the home and in the fields. She said he was a serious boy who was respectful towards the elderly and helped his school friends with their homework.

In 1960 he moved to Sarajevo, where he later met his wife, Ljiljana, graduated as a doctor, and became a psychiatrist in a city hospital.

He also became a poet and fell under the influence of the Serb nationalist writer Dobrica Cosic, who encouraged him to go into politics.

Years later, after working briefly for the Green Party, he helped set up the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) - formed in 1990 in response to the rise of nationalist and Croat parties in Bosnia, and dedicated to the goal of a Greater Serbia.

Less than two years later, as Bosnia-Hercegovina gained recognition as an independent state, he declared the creation of the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina (later renamed Republika Srpska) with its capital in Pale, a suburb of Sarajevo, and himself as head of state.

Mr Karadzic's party, supported by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, organised Serbs to fight against the Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia.

A vicious war ensued, in which Serbs besieged Sarajevo for 43 months, shelling Bosniak forces but also terrorising the civilian population with a relentless bombardment and sniper fire. Thousands of civilians died, many of them deliberately targeted.

Bosnian Serb forces - assisted by paramilitaries from Serbia proper - also expelled hundreds of thousands of Bosniaks and Croats from their homes in a brutal campaign of "ethnic cleansing". Numerous atrocities were documented, including the widespread rape of Bosniak women and girls.

Reporters also discovered Bosnian Serb punishment camps, where prisoners-of-war were starved and tortured.

War crimes were also committed against Serb civilians by the Bosnian Serbs' foes in the bitter inter-ethnic war - Europe's bloodiest since World War II.

Mr Karadzic was jointly indicted in 1995 along with the Bosnian Serb military leader, Ratko Mladic, for alleged war crimes they committed during the 1992-95 war.

He was obliged to step down as president of the SDS in 1996 as the West threatened sanctions against Republika Srpska, and later went into hiding.

While on the run, he managed to get a book published in October 2004 by a former associate, Miroslav Toholj. Miraculous Chronicles of the Night, set in 1980s Yugoslavia, tells the story of a man jailed by mistake after the death of former Yugoslav strongman Josip Broz Tito.

In May 2005, investigators reported two separate sightings of Radovan Karadzic - allegedly with his wife Ljiljana in south-eastern Bosnia and then with his brother Luka in Belgrade - as his mother was dying of cancer in Niksic, Montenegro.

 

 

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