Bosnia’s top war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic will never surrender to the UN war crimes tribunal, his wife said today.
“No one from our family can make that decision and tell Radovan to surrender,” said Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic. “I think he will never surrender.”
As the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Karadzic is accused of having masterminded – together with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic - Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, which claimed 260,000 lives and left 1.8 million people homeless.
Karadzic, 58, and his wartime military chief, General Ratko Mladic, are the two most-wanted suspects sought by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
“This is a political court that only tries Serbs. Radovan told me, the last time we spoke, that he does not acknowledge this court as a legal court,” Zelen-Karadzic said adding that she has not seen or spoken to her husband for several years.
Since being indicted for genocide in 1995, Karadzic has been on the run and is believed to be hiding in disguise deep in the mountains of Bosnia and surrounded by armed bodyguards. EU peacekeepers deployed in Bosnia have a standing order to arrest him.
The leadership of the Bosnian Serb mini-state, which together with a Muslim-Croat federation comprises post-war Bosnia, is under constant pressure by the West to hand over Karadzic. The US State Department has offered £2.6 million for information leading to his capture.
Zelen-Karadzic said Bosnian Serb officials approached her several months ago and offered €25,000 and scholarships for their children if her husband surrendered to the court.
“One man in civilian clothes and another in a police uniform told us what was the government’s offer but we told them we are not in any kind of contact with Radovan,” Mr Karadzic said.
At her home in Pale, a village 10 miles east of Sarajevo, which used to be the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb wartime leadership led by her husband, Zelen-Karadzic lives alone and works as a psychiatrist in her own practice nearby. Her husband is also a psychiatrist by profession.
Her house has been raided several times by Nato-led peacekeepers searching for clues to Karadzic’s whereabouts, and she has been under constant surveillance.
In 2003, authorities in Bosnia and the United States ordered her bank accounts to be frozen, and her family has been slapped with a travel ban.
“We live a modest life, normal life as much as we can,” she said.