(04/08/08) BALKAN WATCH


Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic

was captured by Serbian authorities in Belgrade

following some thirteen years of living in

hiding. Karadzic had assumed a fake identity,

posing as a bearded alternative medicine expert

named Dragan Dabic. Those who knew

Karadzic only by his fake identity described it

as convincing; he had also arranged to publish

several articles in alternative medical journals

about “human quantum energy” and had

participated in several professional conferences

in Serbia. After being arrested while riding a

public bus, Karadzic’s lawyers claimed that they

had mailed an appeal against a Serbian court’s

extradition orders; however, the appeal was

never received, and Karadzic was flown early in

the morning to The Hague.

Karadzic shortly afterwards appeared before the

tribunal, where Judge Alphons Orie read the

eleven charges against him. Karadzic chose not

to enter a plea at the time and was visibly

scornful of the court. Karadzic stated he would

represent himself during the trial without

support from counsel. Karadzic also suggested

that he will argue about an unwritten

understanding he claims he had made with

former American diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

Karadzic suggested that Holbrooke had offered

him the opportunity to walk away from the war

crimes charges as long as he promised not to

involve himself again in Serbian or Bosnian

politics. Karadzic claimed that Holbrooke made

this offer wanting to ensure that the provisions

of the Dayton peace accords were able to take

root and the new government for Bosnia

established at Dayton would be able to be

established. In an interview with Der Spiegel,

Holbrooke labeled Karadzic’s claims as “lies.”

There are already concerns that Karadzic may

attempt to draw out the trial over as long a

period as possible and use his courtroom

arguments to appeal to Serb nationalists in

Serbia and Bosnia. Karadzic criticized the

media for creating a “witch-hunt” that he claims

will preclude any chance of him receiving a fair

trial. Orie adjourned the tribunal until August

29, when Karadzic will have another chance to

enter a plea. Should he refuse to cooperate or

choose not to enter a plea at that time, the court

will automatically enter a “not-guilty” plea on

his behalf.



Karadzic’s capture and extradition are being

lauded as a success for the new pro-EU

government in Serbia. Officials across the EU

offered their congratulations to the Serbian

government for Karadzic’s capture and quick

extradition. French Foreign Minister Bernard

Kouchner, whose government currently holds

the rotating EU presidency, noted that the

capture will significantly benefit Serbia’s

application for membership in the EU; however,

Kouchner also suggested that Belgrade still has

much more work to do, including capturing the

remaining indicted war criminals, especially

Karadzic’s former military commander, Ratko

Mladic. Serb officials were reluctant to divulge

information on Karadzic’s capture to the media,

concerned that doing so would complicate

searches for other indicted war criminals.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Serbian

officials were actually looking for Mladic at the

time they had found the clues leading to

Karadzic’s assumed identity as Dragan Dabic.

Serbian officials are searching for more details

on how Karadzic was able to obtain the

necessary documentation that allowed him to go

into hiding under the false identity. In Bosnia,

victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre lauded

Karadzic’s capture. In Tuzla, twenty members

of the Association of the Mothers of Srebrenica

gathered to watch Karadzic’s first appearance

before the UN tribunal. Several of the widows

expressed a sense of justice with Karadzic’s



Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime

Minister Hashim Thaci recently met with

President Bush during a visit to Washington.

While meeting with Thaci and Sejdiu, President

Bush pledged to encourage other countries that

have yet to recognize Kosovo’s independence to

do so as soon as possible. Bush also mentioned

that the three leaders discussed Kosovo’s

aspirations for greater participation within the

transatlantic community, potentially leading

toward membership in NATO. The three also

discussed economic development and strategies

to improve Kosovo’s education system as a

means toward ensuring the new country’s stable

and successful future. Sejdiu reiterated the

Kosovar government’s support for the

provisions of the Ahtisaari Plan and pledged to

continue to ensure that minority groups are

allowed to participate in the country’s multiethnic

government. Thaci praised the strong

relations between Kosovo and the United States.


Kosovo’s government recently began to issue its

own passports, a step that reinforces the

country’s sovereignty and independence from

Serbia. Between 1999 and 2008, the UN

administration in place in Kosovo issued its

own passports to Kosovo’s citizens. The

dwindling UN administration in Pristina was

willing to allow the new government to begin

issuing them to the country’s citizens, a

bureaucratic coup toward which opponents in

the international community of Kosovo’s

independence will object. Many citizens of

Kosovo were willing to wait for hours in

Pristina for their new passports, each of which

has the six yellow stars of the country’s new

flag on it. The passports will only be valid in

the 43 countries that have thus far recognized

Kosovo’s independence. As additional

countries recognize Kosovo, the country’s

citizens will be able to use their passports to

travel to more locations. The UN will no longer

issue passports in Kosovo.


TRIBUNAL. Baton Haxhiu, editor of the

Kosovo Express newspaper, was found guilty of

publishing the name of a witness who had

anonymously testified in the case of former

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

Hague tribunal presiding judge Alphons Orie

stated that Haxhiu’s actions undermined

confidence in the tribunal’s protective measures

and its ability to ensure that perpetrators of

atrocities committed in the former Yugoslavia

are able to receive a fair trial. Judge Orie noted

that Haxhiu’s actions could dissuade future

witnesses from appearing before the tribunal.

As penalty for his actions, Haxhiu was fined

€7,000. Five other Kosovo Albanians have also

been charged with contempt of court in the trials

of Haradinaj and two other defendants, Idriz

Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. Haxhiu had appeared

before the tribunal in two other trials, including

the one against Slobodan Milosevic, as a

prosecution witness. Orie cited Haxhiu’s

assistance in these cases as a factor in the

tribunal’s decision not to apply a more serious

penalty against him.


“Karadzic presided over the years of terror in

Sarajevo, when Serbian bombardments

destroyed crowded neighborhoods and Serbian

sniper attacks targeted people crossing streets.

Under his watch, there were the rape camps,

where sexual assault was the weapon of choice.

Then came the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, a

mining town in eastern Bosnia packed with

40,000 Muslims, mostly refugees who were

supposed to have been under U.N. protection.

Karadzic and the Bosnian Serbs' top military

commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, launched an

attack on Srebrenica and then executed about

8,000 Muslim men and boys who had been

taken captive, blindfolded and their hands

bound in wire ligatures.”—Author Laura Silber

(Los Angeles Times, 7/23/08).

“The Kosovo government and the Kosovo

people will always bow in deep respect for the

United States and for the U.S. administration. It

is a joint success story.”—Kosovo Prime

Minister Hashim Thaci (The White House,


“The north of Kosovo is now a lawless area.

There has to be a presence in the north.”—

Assistant Secretary of State for European and

Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried, commenting on

the Serb-ruled area of Kosovo to reporters in

Brussels (AFP, 7/22/08).

Prepared by John Sannar

GroenDe enige partij die sociaal én milieuvriendelijk is.

De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.

Samen ijveren voor een beter Europa en klimaat?