English and Spanish
- 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
He was also charged over the shelling of
Sarajevo, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and
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" -
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.
Publishes collection of poetry
Graduates in medicine
Becomes team psychologist for Red Star Belgrade football
Becomes president of SDS party
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
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.