Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Butcher of Bosnia and Me

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Butcher of Bosnia and Me

Article excerpt


THE QUEST FOR RADOVAN KARADZIC by Nick Hawton (Hutchinson, [pounds sterling]14.99)

FOR more than 10 years, Radovan Karadzic was the most wanted man in Europe. The leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the wars of the former Yugoslavia in the Nineties faces trial at the International Court in the Hague next September. He is charged with committing the most bestial war crimes since the Nazis were defeated.

Under his regime, it is claimed, concentration camps were set up as part of a deliberate policy of "ethnic cleansing". Rape became a weapon of war; thousands of Muslim women were victims. Karadzic allegedly sanctioned atrocities we had thought would never again be seen on our continent, such as the massacre of more than 800 men and boys in the small town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Despite repeated attempts to capture him, by Nato troops and police forces of various countries, Karadzic remained at large. The failure to bring him to justice was a severe embarrassment to the so-called "international community" in general and, in particular, to the governments in Britain, France and Germany who were most actively involved in running Bosnia after the war ended.

Then, suddenly last summer, Karadzic was arrested. It was assumed he had been holed up in the remote hills of Bosnia or Montenegro, protected by heavily armed members of his clan or mafia gangs. In fact, he had been living quietly in an upmarket suburb of Belgrade. He had changed his name to Dragan Dabic and sported a thick grey beard. Long hair replaced the bouffant he was famous for and he wore thickrimmed spectacles. He regularly drank at local bars; he used public transport. He set himself up in a Belgrade clinic offering alternative medical treatments, mainly for men suffering from sexual problems. He had a website offering health advice and regularly gave public lectures. Apparently nobody recognised him, though for many years Karadzic had been one of the best-known faces and voices on Serbian news programmes.

It is a brilliant story, which one day could make a marvellous film examining the nature of good and evil, the dangers of extreme nationalism, the cynicism of great-power politicians and the mechanics of disguise. …

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