Radovan Karadzic, one of the world’s most wanted war criminals for his part in the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, was arrested on Monday in a raid in Serbia that ended a 13-year hunt.
Serge Brammertz, the prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, hailed the arrest as an important step in bringing to justice one of the architects of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II. He said Karadzic, 63, dubbed as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, the Bosnian Serb president during the war there between 1992 and 1995, would be transferred to The Hague in “due course.”
“It is also an important day for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice,” Brammertz said.
Karadzic, 63, was working at a medical clinic in Serbia’s capital Belgrade using a false identity and was heavily disguised by a snow white beard before his arrest, Serbian officials said. He was arrested after a weeks-long covert operation to track down the former leader, said prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic.
Serbian minister Rasim Ljajic told reporters that Karadzic was using false documents giving him the name of “Dragan Dabic” and a non-Serbian identity at the time of arrest.
Karadzic, a nationalist hero among Serbian radicals and one of the tribunal’s most wanted criminals for more than a decade, is said to have eluded arrest so long by shaving his swoopy gray hair and disguising himself as a Serbian Orthodox priest.
Karadzic’s arrest earlier drew jubilation in the streets of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, which Bosnian Serb forces had shelled heavily during the war, and a small protest from ultra Serb nationalists in front of Belgrade’s heavily-guarded war crimes court.