Global Policy Forum

Bosnian Serb Police Fail to Find Karadzic


By Zeljko Debelnogic

March 14, 2004

Bosnian Serb police, under Western pressure to arrest one of the world's most wanted men, said they failed to find war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic in a large-scale operation on Saturday. The force said it had received information that wartime Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic, wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, was near the town of Bratunac, in a hardline nationalist region bordering Serbia. But the day-long operation failed to net the 58-year-old, accused of genocide against Muslims during the 1992-95 Bosnian war but still a hero for many Serb nationalists. Police spokesman Dragomir Peric told Reuters the operation ended at 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. EST). Asked if Karadzic had been found, he replied: "No individuals were arrested on The Hague tribunal warrants." Peric, who earlier in the day said police had received "credible" information about Karadzic on Friday, could not say whether the fugitive had indeed been in the area of Bratunac. "We will now analyze gathered information," he added. It was one of the first big actions to hunt down Karadzic by Bosnian Serb authorities, often accused by the West of not doing enough to arrest Hague suspects -- a key condition for closer ties with the rest of Europe. "If this is genuine, then for sure this is the most serious operation they have launched so far," said political commentator Antonio Prlenda of the daily Oslobodjenje in Sarajevo. The NATO-led SFOR peacekeeping force, which has stepped up its hunt for Karadzic in recent months, said a small number of its soldiers provided help, mainly in the form of observation. "This operation is significant because RS (Bosnia's Serb republic) is taking the lead in it," said Major Jarrod Crull. Peric said 150 police officers were involved and checked cars and individuals at several places by the border. Reuters reporters saw dozens of special and regular police in and around Bratunac and an armored personnel carrier. Police in balaclavas manned a checkpoint on a village road and another patrol used a search dog beside the border river Drina. The U.S. ambassador for war crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, warned Bosnian Serb leaders in early March they would face increased international pressure unless they did more to find Karadzic and his wartime military commander Ratko Mladic. U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who said last month that Karadzic was in Belgrade, said she believed Mladic might be caught this month. "This time I think I have positive elements for thinking this is going to happen," she told Swiss RSR radio.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on Radavan Karadzic
More Information on the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia


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