Recently, former 1st President of Republika Srpska, and one of the world most wanted fugitives, Radovan Karadzic, was arrested in Belgrade by the Serbian authorities after an alleged tip-off from a foreign intelligence service. Karadzic had been fugitive since 1995 after having been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). A US$5 million reward had been offered for his arrest by the United States Government. Since his arrest many reactions and questions have been asked around the world.
Political life and war crime charges
Radovan Karadzic was born in 1945 in Petnjica, Republic of Montenegro. In 1989 he co-founded a political party called the "Serbian Democratic Party" (Srpska Demokratska Stranka - SDS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose objective at the time was to convince the republic's Bosnian Serb community and Croatian Serbs to remain a part of Yugoslavia.
In a March 1992 referendum, Bosnia gained independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and later, in April was recognised by the United Nations as an independent state. Later that year, Karadzic became the first President of Republika Srpska. He was President until 1996.
In 1995, Karadzic was indicted by the International Criminal Court along with Colonel-General Ratko Mladic (currently at large). He is accused of personal and command responsibility for numerous war crimes committed against non-Serbs, in his roles as Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Serb Armed Forces and President of the National Security Council of the Republika Srpska. Among others, he is accused of ordering the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, the Siege of Sarajevo and ordering that United Nations personnel be taken hostage in May-June 1995.
The indictment is based on the charges of individual criminal responsibility and superior criminal responsibility, including:
- unlawful transfer of civilians because of religious or national identity;
- one count of severe breaches of the Geneva Conventions;
- three counts of violations of the Laws of War; and
- five counts of crimes against humanity.
Karadzic is not the only high ranking individual accused in front of the ICTY. The accused range from common soldiers to generals, from Presidents to Prime Ministers, such as:
- Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia and Yugoslavia; the first sitting head of state indicted for war crimes (died in cell);
- Ratko Mladic, Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army (at large);
- Momcilo Krajisnik, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska (sentenced to 27 years);
- Milan Babic, President of the Republika Srpska Krajina (sentenced to 13 years, died in cell);
- Biljana Plavsic, President of Republika Srpska (sentenced to 11 years);
- Milan Martic, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska Krajina (sentenced to 35 years);
- Ante Gotovina, General of the Croatian Army (trial pending); and
- Ramush Haradinaj, former Prime Minister of Kosovo (acquitted in 2008).
When extradited to the International Criminal Court, Radovan Karadzic became the 44th Serb suspect to be sent to The Hague.
According to Serbian government officials, Karadzic was arrested on July 21, 2008, in Belgrade, however, special police forces were visible in Belgrade centre on July 18 in the evening, when it is believed Karadzic was arrested. These claims were refuted by the Serbian Government.
Until his capture, Karadzic lived under the false name of Dr Dragan Dabic. He also obtained and used a false ID and practiced alternative medicine at a private medical clinic, specialising in alternative medicine and psychology.
He was extradited on July 30, 2008 to The Hague, and incarcerated in the International Criminal Court detention centre in Scheveningen, one of the districts of The Hague, The Netherlands.
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