BELGRADE, Serbia – Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, accused architect of massacres and the politician considered most responsible for the deadly siege of Sarajevo, was arrested Monday evening in a Serbian police raid ending his 13 years as the world’s most-wanted war crimes fugitive.
His alleged partner in the persecution and “cleansing” of tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, remained at large.
A psychiatrist turned diehard Serbian nationalist politician, Karadzic is the suspected mastermind of mass killings that the U.N. war crimes tribunal described as “scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.” They include the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, Europe’s worst slaughter since World War II.
A Serbian police source said Karadzic was arrested in a Belgrade suburb after weeks of surveillance of his safe house and a tip from a foreign intelligence service.
Serbian President Boris Tadic’s office said Karadzic has been taken before the investigative judge of Serbia’s war crimes court, a legal procedure that indicates he could soon be extradited to the U.N. court at The Hague, Netherlands. Investigative judge Milan Dilparic said early today that Karadzic was “being questioned.”
However, it was unclear whether Belgrade planned to extradite him to The Hague for trial by the U.N. tribunal, or attempt to try him in Serbia.
Serbia braced for a possible reaction from ultranationalists who are believed to have helped shelter Karadzic and Mladic over the years. Karadzic’s reported hide-outs included Serbian Orthodox monasteries and refurbished mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.
Heavily armed special forces were deployed around the war-crimes court in Belgrade as dozens of Karadzic supporters gathered nearby. Several were arrested after attacking reporters in front of the courthouse.