July 21, 2008

Serbian Authorities Nab Fugitive Karadzic

Serbian forces have captured alleged war criminal Radovan Karadzic, accused of overseeing atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, officials said Monday.

Karadzic, who was president of the Bosnian-Serb republic during the war, had been a fugitive for more than 10 years, eluding capture despite intense efforts to apprehend him and other alleged war criminals.

Karadzic, 63, was indicted in 1995 by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on charges including genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, willful killing, persecutions, deportation and inhumane acts.

He is accused of directing the 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim males in Srebrenica, and of initiating the practice of ethnic cleansing, in which tens of thousands of people died when authorities forced Muslims from their homes and burned their land, The New York Times said.

The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said in a statement Monday the arrest of Karadzic was 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 a date had not been determined for transferring Karadzic to the custody of the tribunal.

A top Serbian official said last week his nation is committed to turning Karadzic over to an international tribunal, along with Ratko Mladic, who is accused of leading death squads during the war.

Rasim Ljajic, head of the Serbian council for cooperation with the tribunal, said extradition of accused war criminals would open the door for Serbia's admission to the European Union and reduce domestic political stress as well.