NATO steps up Karadzic hunt after Croat’s arrest
By Zeljko Debelnogic
PALE, Bosnia (Reuters) – NATO stepped up the hunt for top
Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic on Monday,
saying it was under pressure to find him after the arrest in
Spain last week of a top Croatian fugitive.
A NATO spokesman said alliance and European Union soldiers
raided the home of a suspected Karadzic supporter to seek
information about the former Bosnian Serb leader, indicted for
genocide by the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague.
Monday’s operation in Pale, Karadzic’s stronghold in the
1992-95 Bosnia war, followed a weekend police raid in
neighbouring Montenegro — where he has also been reported to
be hiding since going underground in 1997.
Police searched the house of Karadzic’s brother Luka and
seized mobile telephone chips.
“These kinds of operations are even more important now,”
NATO spokesman Derek Chappell told Reuters. He said the arrest
of Croat general Ante Gotovina last week had intensified
pressure to bring in top fugitives still at large.
Gotovina was arrested last Thursday in Spain’s Canary
Islands after more than four years on the run, removing a major
obstacle to Croatia’s drive for EU membership.
He was due to appear before the tribunal on Monday to
answer charges related to the murders of 150 Serb civilians by
his troops during and after the Croatian army’s recapture of
the Krajina enclave in 1995.
His arrest leaves six Serbs and Bosnian Serbs sought by The
Hague still at large, piling additional pressure on Bosnia’s
Serb Republic, the authorities of Serbia and Montenegro, and
NATO, to arrest them.
MANY RAIDS, BUT NO SIGHTINGS
The West insists Karadzic and his former military commander
Ratko Mladic must go the Hague to stand trail for the siege of
Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim in Srebrenica
before Serbia and Bosnia can join the EU and NATO.
Their ability to elude capture also embarrasses NATO, which
has been accused of not trying hard enough to arrest them,
despite a number of high profile raids and a crackdown on their
alleged network of supporters.
“The world is watching for Mladic and Karadzic to be
delivered to the Hague and it’s essential that these operations
continue to put pressure on a support network that allows them
to remain at large,” Chappell said.
Mladic is widely believed to be hiding in Serbia, protected
by elements in the military. NATO said he visited his wartime
bunker in eastern Bosnia in mid-2004. Karadzic is thought to
have hideouts in Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia.
NATO handed over peacekeeping duties to the EU force EUFOR
a year ago to concentrate on the war crimes hunt and fighting
terrorism. It insists Bosnian Serb authorities carry the
primary responsibility for tracking down suspects.
But analysts say NATO itself is desperate to fix what is
arguably the biggest failure of its decade-long deployment in
Bosnia, and that is why it has carried out dozens of raids,
detentions and interrogations in the past year.
NATO insists the actions are not for show and that they
weaken Karadzic’s support network and yield clues to his
movements. But so far they have produced no tangible result.