Karadzic practised alternative medicine as he eluded police in Belgrade
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic practised alternative medicine and wrote articles for a lifestyle magazine under a pseudonym while eluding police in Belgrade, officials said Tuesday.
Karadzic, 63, was arrested Monday after eluding officials for more than a decade and stands accused of masterminding Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War, the killing in 1995 of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.
Also on Tuesday, a judge in Belgrade ordered the wartime Bosnian Serb leader to be transferred to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague to face trial.
Karadzic is accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities relating to the 1995 massacre and other acts against Muslim, Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-95 war.
Karadzic has three days to appeal the ruling, and his lawyer, Sveta Vujacic, said he will launch the process to fight extradition on the last day, Friday, to thwart authorities' wishes for his immediate transfer.
Practised alternative medicine, wrote for magazine
Karadzic went by the false name of Dragan Dabic and worked at a private alternative medicine clinic, government official Rasim Ljajic said.
"His false identity was very convincing," war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said. "Even his landlords were unaware of his identity."
The editor in chief of Belgrade's Healthy Life magazine, Goran Kojic, said he was shocked when he saw the photo of Karadzic on TV and recognized him as a regular contributor to the publication.
"It never even occurred to me that this man with a long white beard and hair was Karadzic," Kojic said.
The undated photograph released by the magazine of Karadzic showed him with longer white hair than his usual coiffed hairdo and a thick white beard concealing most of his face.
Found during search for other suspect
Serbian security officials found Karadzic when looking for another top war crimes suspect facing genocide charges, Bosnian Serb wartime commander general Ratko Mladic, said Ljajic. Karadzic's movements and details about his arrest will be kept secret until Mladic's capture, officials said.
Observers said officials have been aware of Karadzic's location, but there's been a lack of political will to arrest him.
"It didn't take long to find him. It didn't take 13 years to find him since the indictment. It took 13 years to galvanize the authorities to actually arrest him," said retired Canadian general Lewis MacKenzie.
Paul Heinbecker, who served as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, said the newly elected pro-European government is keen on membership in the European Union, and a new head of intelligence helped lead to Karadzic's arrest.
'Finally,' French minister says
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said the arrest sets Serbia firmly on the path toward EU membership.
"It took a change in government for him to be arrested, to find the political will to go after him," said Heinbecker.
The EU has made it clear it would proceed with membership only when Karadzic and his military commander Mladic were arrested.
"We have waited for this for 13 years. Finally. Finally," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Brussels. "This is a very good thing for the rapprochement of Serbia with the European Union."
The war crimes tribunal has described the mass killings as "scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history."
Speedy trial unlikely
It is unlikely there will be a speedy trial for the complex case, which encompasses atrocities throughout the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
"Karadzic is the second most important defendant that we have had. It will not be a quick trial, but I believe it can be held as soon as possible — possibly within a few years," tribunal judge Frederik Harhoff of Denmark told Danish TV2 News.
An estimated 10,000 people died during the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and February 1996, when Bosnian Serb troops were starving, sniping and bombarding the city centre.
The worst massacre happened in Srebrenica in 1995, when Serb troops led by Mladic overran a UN-protected enclave sheltering Bosnian Muslims. Mladic's troops rounded up the entire population and took the men away for execution.
By the war's end in late 1995, an estimated 250,000 people had died and another 1.8 million had been driven from their homes.
The international tribunal indicted Karadzic on genocide charges in 1995. The psychiatrist turned hardline Serbian nationalist occasionally appeared in public before going into hiding three years later.
Through the years, his hideouts reportedly included monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.
With files from the Associated Press