Global Policy Forum

Support Dwindles for Fugitive Karadzic


By Nick Hawson

August 27, 2005

Indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes in The Hague, Radovan Karadzic has evaded capture for 10 years. Now, a senior member of the Serbian Orthodox Church and previous supporter of Mr Karadzic, Amfilohije Radovic, has urged him to give himself up.

I was trying to read Amfilohije Radovic's eyes. His deep-set hazel eyes. What was he thinking? What did he know? Why was he telling me all this? He was wearing the traditional black robe, with a long grey beard and a gold chain with a pendant depicting Mary and Jesus. Black prayer beads passed through his hands as he considered his answers.

This was his first interview with the international media for a decade. Naturally, he was being careful. After all, the subject we were talking about could hardly be more sensitive - the whereabouts of Europe's most wanted man. A contact with impeccable contacts had set up the interview, in one of those remote mountain monasteries in the former Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro. A winding, uphill road brought us to our destination. A few houses nearby kept the monastery company. The views towards the surrounding mountains and valleys were spectacular.

The interviewee was the most senior member of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. Some believe Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic will be the next head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He is a man with impeccable contacts: his cousin is married to the prime minister of Serbia. Another of his contacts, well, former contacts, was the subject of our conversation: the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic.

Mr Karadzic has been indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role during the Bosnian War. He has been on the run for the past eight years. Metropolitan Amfilohije has always been close to the Karadzic family. He gave the sermon at the funeral of Mr Karadzic's mother, Jovanka, when she died earlier this year. I was there and heard Amfilohije compare Jovanka to the mothers of past Serbian heroes. But, allegedly, his closeness goes further than that and Amfilohije and his Church have been accused of sheltering Mr Karadzic.

Offering help

We sat in the garden of the monastery, a small glass table next to us. A bowl of bread was provided. Nuns hovered deferentially and served us grape brandy and coffee. Another monk filmed us on a home video camera. "For the Metropolitan's personal archive," I was told. And so to the questions: Has his Church been protecting Radovan Karadzic? Absolutely not. When was the last time he saw Mr Karadzic? 10 years ago. Would he give Mr Karadzic help if he was asked for it? He would give help to anyone in need.


The atmosphere relaxed and I asked him to abandon, just for a moment, his clerical robes. A pause. A slight look of surprise. And then I carried on: "And for a moment, be a journalist." Smiles all round. Even laughter from my host and his cameraman. Imagine you are a journalist and you can ask Radovan Karadzic one question. What would it be?

The Metropolitan looked ahead, a pause. A little chuckle. Another smile. "I would ask him, I would ask him did he prefer to live in a hole, like a hunted animal, or would he prefer to go to The Hague and hand himself in." And the Metropolitan went further. "Just as I wouldn't want someone to impose their will on me, so I wouldn't want to impose my will on Mr Karadzic," he told me. "But if I was him, I would go to The Hague. I expect him to do the right thing. To take the responsibility upon himself."

Television appeal

Now this was really surprising. A traditional close ally of the Karadzic family, someone who has even been accused of protecting him, saying that if he was in his place, he would go to The Hague. Not a direct appeal, but as close as you get. And it is a sign that things may be changing in the Balkans, regarding the future of Radovan Karadzic.

Last month his wife went on Bosnian television and, in virtual tears, appealed for her husband to give himself up for the sake of the family. Unprecedented words from his closest and most loyal ally. These are powerful voices in the world of Mr Karadzic. The question is, will they be loud enough for him to hear?


Sources close to the Montenegro government claim that Western intelligence agencies are actively working on the ground in the republic to try to pinpoint the exact location of the former Bosnian Serb leader. And then, if possible, broker a deal for his surrender. Things seem to be happening.

But there is one potential problem. If Mr Karadzic is eventually found to be hiding in Montenegro, it would be very embarrassing for the Church, the government and for the security forces. Especially after all the years of persistent denials.

Heads would have to roll. Some believe it might be better, that if Mr Karadzic is found, that he is not found alive.

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


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