Nato peacekeepers have ended two days of patrols around the home of Radovan Karadzic’s daughter, suspected of helping the United Nations war crimes tribunal’s top fugitive evade justice.
US, French and Italian peacekeepers arrived in Pale, a town 10 miles north east of Sarajevo that served as Karadzic’s wartime headquarters, on Tuesday morning. The operation aimed to disrupt the efforts of people impeding the progress and development of the country as outlined in the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, the peacekeeping force said in a statement.
After leaving overnight, they returned early yesterday to gather around the home of Sonja Karadzic and patrol other areas of the town. Late in the afternoon, the vehicles again moved away from their positions and headed towards Sarajevo.
Captain Dale MacEachern, a spokesman for the alliance in Bosnia, initially said “the operation is still ongoing”, but later announced it had ended with the withdrawal of the vehicles.
The troops did not enter any buildings and did not make any arrests. There was no sign the action was an attempt to arrest Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader who reportedly has been hiding in disguise in remote eastern Bosnia.
The troops, deployed at junctions and outside selected homes in Pale’s wealthier neighbourhoods, appeared to focus on relatives and others suspected of helping Karadzic evade capture.
Nato has made several unsuccessful attempts to arrest Karadzic, and international officials blame the failures on a well-developed network of helpers who keep him informed about Nato movements and help him hide.
Nato this year began to try to crack that supporting network, and international officials compiled a list of people they suspect are part of it.
Karadzic’s wife and daughter, his son Aleksandar, and brother Luka, are included on the list. Their bank accounts and assets in Bosnia were frozen last month by the country’s top international official, former Liberal Democrat Lord Ashdown. In January, troops searched a radio station owned by Karadzic’s daughter.
The 1992-1995 Bosnian war killed 250,000 people and displaced 1.8 million others. Karadzic and his wartime military chief, General Ratko Mladic, were indicted in 1995 for genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Bosnia’s non-Serb population. Both are hiding.
Karadzic is accused of being responsible for the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, a UN-declared “safe haven” for Muslim refugees.
The enclave was overrun by Serbs who separated the men and boys from the women. Up to 8,000 men and boys were executed and their bodies bulldozed into mass graves. Women were raped and some children killed in several days of bloodletting.
Karadzic’s hideouts reportedly have included Serbian Orthodox monasteries and refurbished mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia. He is said to don various disguises and to move about frequently.