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Ban hails capture of fugitive Serb leader

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has described the arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader and fugitive war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic as a "decisive step".

world Updated: Jul 23, 2008 12:30 IST

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has described the arrest of former Bosnian Serb leader and fugitive war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic as a "decisive step" towards ending impunity of those who commit crimes against humanity.

Karadzic, 63, had evaded capture for over a decade after being indicted by the United Nations tribunal set up to try those responsible for atrocities committed during the 1990s Balkans conflict that left thousands of people dead.

The Serb leader was one of three remaining fugitives from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), along with Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic and the ethnic Serb politician Goran Hadzic. He was detained in Belgrade Monday after a 13-year-long manhunt.

"The Secretary-General commends the Serbian authorities for this decisive step toward ending impunity for those indicted for serious violations of international humanitarian law during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia," Ban's spokesperson said.

"This is a historic moment for the victims, who have waited 13 years for Mr Karadic to be brought to justice," Ban said.

The former President of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina is accused of ordering the deadly siege of Sarajevo and some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II -- including the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

Ban noted that while the arrest is "an important milestone, the work of the International Tribunal will not be complete until all fugitives have been arrested and tried."

The arrest was also hailed by ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz who called it a "milestone in cooperation" with the tribunal.