Profile: Radovan Karadzic


by Taylor Baines

August 11, 2000

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is an international fugitive, one of the most wanted men in the world. Charged with leading the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, he has twice been indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The UN says his murder squads killed up to 6,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in July 1995 "in order to kill, terrorise and demoralise the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat population". He was also charged over the shelling of Sarajavo, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995.

Since the Dayton accord that ended the Bosnian war, the former nationalist president has been lying low. He is thought to be hiding in the mountainous south eastern area of the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, protected by paramilitaries.

Radovan Karadzic, a former consultant psychiatrist at the Kosevo Hospital in Sarajevo, has denied the charges against him and refused to recognise the legitimacy of the UN tribunal.

"If The Hague was a real juridical body I would be ready to go there to testify or do so on television, but it is a political body that has been created to blame the Serbs," he told the UK-based Times newspaper in February 1996.


Rumours have been circulating that Karadzic is plotting to move to Serbia with his family, under the protection of President Slobodan Milosevic, also indicted for suspected war crimes.

Dr Karadzic's businessman son has lived in Belgrade for some years and his daughter is reportedly looking for a buyer for her television and radio station, Astra, which is based in Pale, the ski resort town near Sarajevo.

His wife, Ljiljana Karadzic, who heads the Red Cross in the Bosnian Serb republic, attended celebrations in Pale in July, to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of her husband's Serbian Democratic Party.

She appears to live apart from her husband for security reasons, but has praised the achievements of his party and has spoken of her husband's constant fear of being arrested and put on trial in the West.

Early life

Dr Karadzic was born in a stable in Montenegro, where his mother, Jovankas, still lives. His father Vuk has been dead for many years.

Jovankas Karadzic has described her son as loyal, and a hard-worker, who used to help her in the home and in the field. She said he was a serious boy who was respectful towards the elderly and helped his school friends with their homework.

Family photos show him playing the guslen, a one-stringed Serb instrument. He is also a poet and a former petty criminal.

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