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NO 121-122

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 121-122 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 121-122

July - August 2008


Radovan Karadzic in The Hague


By Bojan al Pinto-Brkic

Auntie surprised us again. Not like with the documentary "The Death of Yugoslavia" but somehow.differently.

Featuring the arrest of the wartime leader of Bosnian Serbs and one of today's most infamous fugitives from justice, Radovan Karadzic, indicted of genocide and violations of the laws or customs of war, BBC paid special attention to his tihovanje. Editors of the leading broadcaster in English found it fit to interpret this fantasy of Karadzic's as mystical technique of Serbian monks. Though the Anglo-Saxon world is familiar with the term a vow of silence, and the British Empire must have experienced similar forms of tihovanje at four continents at least, such interpretation suggested to an ordinary viewer that Karadzic, a fugitive on the run, at least used to disappear like a ghost, change forms, levitate, dive and crawl while all police forces of the world were trying to track him down. The portrait of Karadzic in hiding, a hidden dragon, handily explains how come that a man responsible for the Srebrenica genocide and bombing of Sarajevo spent the incredible 13 years in tihovanje, far from courts of law and any accountability.

Operatives of the Security-Information Agency staged his arrest in a local bus to impress their new director Sasa Vukadinovic a couple of days before the planned visit by Main Prosecutor Serge Bramertz whose report was decisive for Serbia's movement towards European integrations that so much preoccupy Vukadinovic's superiors. Everything else that has been written about the hard work of state agencies and the anonymous source of information that triggered off the action is just a bunch of nonsense. Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian warlord, is not a John Doe. Not only every secret agent but also policemen, postmen, clerks behind the counter and everyone that has ever been paid from state budget knew about him even before the outbreak of the bloody conflict. The very notion that he could have vanished into thin air just like that and without assistance equals science fiction.

The only logical explanation is that state structures have planned his disappearance by the method used in showdown with political opponents. In 1977 Karadzic sunk from view. All of a sudden everyone stopped writing about him or talking about him - the silence was so well-orchestrated. No one sought his advice any longer, let alone photographed him. He became available just to a small circle of his fans (Kosta Cavoski and the circle for the protection of Karadzic's person and deed). His name melted away even in the political discourse: the duo of criminals, Karadzic and Mladic, became a solo - Mladic. The man whose favorite restaurants and hotels were common knowledge - as they are for every politician in today's Sarajevo - became a walking ghost (or as an old policeman put it, he spiritualized).

In good old days when enquiring about someone's fate was not exactly a popular sport some eight to ten people needed really to work hard to erase the memories of some John Doe. Several departments of the state security and the Central Committee, plus local branches, had to work day and night to erase the memory of Milovan Djilas. And that was half a century ago. One only logically assumes that things are by far more complicated nowadays. Radovan Karadzic's tihovanje must have been a most complicated operation successfully realized by one secret service at least.

When Radovan Karadzic was extradited to The Hague Tribunal the public learned some most interesting things from the people who had been either engaged in the search or tailed him this way or another. So it learned that British troops had not been explicitly authorized to arrest the accused of war crimes and had to ask London for instructions in each individual case. American troops had signaled on more than one occasion that they would not play sheriffs. French troops would not risk their relations with the Serb community in Bosnia. German troops took that the arrest would not be by the book. As for Italian troops they seem not to have been authorized to act in the territory Karadzic was moving through, the same as Spanish troops, etc. And all that contributed to a seemingly incredible situation when one of the most wanted persons on this planet freely navigates through Bosnia and risks the arrest by the troops from Senegal, Namibia or some other country even less concerned with the situation in the Balkans while the rest are sitting back. NATO mission acting under the UN umbrella exceeded itself in avoiding responsibility.

Of course, Karadzic spent most time in Serbia under active protection of some secret center of power, which functioned so smoothly for some time that almost everyone clean forgot about Radovan Karadzic. One can hardly tell what or who that center of power was but some elements can help us make a guess. First, upon arrest Radovan Karadzic had on him IDs of a real, living person - and this indicates that whoever issued those documents must have had access to databases of the police, and tax and social insurance authorities. Second, except for the photo, the documents looked almost like originals and the forms on the grounds of which they had been issued were certainly authentic. Third, Karadzic familiar to many people in Belgrade, including the patients he had treated in late 1980s in the Vozdovac Medical Center, managed to melt away in the masses - and for that he had to be specially trained since it is common knowledge that he had not been a natural. Fourth, he moved from an apartment to an apartment, shopped around, went to restaurants, he was even medically treated - and no one ever suspected anything. Fifth, he published articles, which by itself made him a public figure. Anyone else doing the same at this time and without support of a well-organized group would be detected in a month. People in Serbia simply love to play policemen, let alone when any useful information about a suspect gets you a 5-million-USD award.

Just think how come that for ten years no one suspicious about Karadzic turned up - a policeman, professional or amateurish, a president of tenants' council, a local activist, an elderly person peeking through window, a postman, a salesman at green market, a local barber, a plumber, an electrician or a painter. There seems to be only one logical answer: someone has organized that he never runs into such suspicious people or explained them they should better turn a blind eye. That someone - or more of them - could have organized everything with governmental authority - Serbia's or of some other country - and on behalf of Karadzic himself or some other someone financing his tihovanje.

Karadzic's tihovanje was not a manifestation of monasticism but a product of manipulation meant to dumb the public opinion that could have begun posing a series of embarrassing questions to elected representatives not only in Serbia but also in many states in the West. But Serbia's politicians are the most responsible of all for the absence of any productive action to track down and arrest the man who had harmed Serbia, the Serb people and their neighbors - spiritually, bodily, materially and immaterially.

Should it turn out that Karadzic's tihovanje was financed from taxpayers money no PR agency or financial compensation could reinstate the good name of the country and the people. What should be done, therefore, is quite simple - the government must demand a detailed investigation to dig up who and why organized Karadzic's disappearing act, provided him a safe place and eventually came up with the story about his parallel identity, which security services had double-checked among fortune-tellers, quacks and publishers of his books. Offenders should be put on trial and punished under the law. That would demonstrate that Serbia has opted for European course - if it still sticks to that choice. Only after such thorough investigation is initiated we can discuss Serbia's potential remuneration for its Europe-oriented efforts. For, Western countries were not the ones to invent Karadzic and impose him on us - we did on our own.


NO 121-122

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