Even on his birthday, NATO-led peacekeepers did not want Radovan Karadzic to forget they were still looking for him.
So today they put up posters representing birthday cards for Bosnia’s top fugitive war crimes suspect.
But instead of tender greetings and good wishes, the posters bore a more threatening message: “Radovan, we did not forget you.”
Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, spent his 59th birthday hiding in the Bosnian Serb part of the country.
He was indicted in 1995 by the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for genocide and other atrocities committed during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
One poster depicted a one-way ticket to The Hague, with the inscription “The only gift soon”, hinting peacekeepers may soon escort Karadzic to the court to face justice.
The other poster showed a candle about to burn out, implying Karadzic wouldn’t be able to hide forever.
The posters were put up in the Bosnian Serb wartime stronghold of Pale, east of Sarajevo, but by noon many had been removed by irate residents.
Karadzic still enjoys support from a part of the Bosnian Serb population, particularly in Pale where his headquarters was during the war.
The posters were part of an “ongoing campaign to remind the local population that support to persons indicted for war crimes is illegal,” said Lt. Mark Hope, the peacekeepers’ spokesman.
NATO-led peacekeepers have tried repeatedly to arrest Karadzic.
His freedom is a huge obstacle to Bosnia’s admission into the NATO Partnership for Peace Program, which is aimed at increasing cooperation between former Soviet bloc nations and NATO in peacekeeping and other areas.
If he is not apprehended, Bosnia will be rejected at the NATO summit in Istanbul at the end of June, and authorities from the Bosnian Serb part of the country will be blamed.
The country is divided into two parts, one run by Bosnian Serbs, the other shared by Muslims and Croats.