A Life Laid Bare

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic faces genocide charges at the U.N. war crimes tribunal after his arrest in Belgrade in July 2008.
By Peter Finn and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BELGRADE, Serbia, July 22 -- Dragan Dabic, as he called himself, lectured on spirituality, practiced alternative medicine and promised on his Web site to vanquish afflictions ranging from impotence to autism with his "energy healing treatment."

His graying hippie disguise -- the ponytail, the big grizzly beard, the outsize spectacles -- was so good that Serbian secret police running a surveillance operation at first found it difficult to fathom who was in their sights. They were tracking suspected associates of the war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic, according to a police source, and had found their way to the strange New Age doctor.

On the run for more than a decade, Europe's most wanted man was captured Monday, Serbian authorities announced. The unmasking of Karadzic, 63, ended a manhunt for the Bosnian Serb leader whose name will forever be linked with the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the city of Srebrenica, their bodies bulldozed into mass graves.

"He happily, freely walked around the city," Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told reporters here Tuesday. "The people who rented him the apartment did not know his true identity."

Goran Kojic, editor in chief of Belgrade's Healthy Life magazine, said that Karadzic was a regular contributor to his publication and that he likewise had no clue as to his true identity. Karadzic was trained in prewar days as a psychiatrist, a background that appears to have helped him fit into the world of alternative medicine.

On Tuesday, the magazine released photos of the healer, dressed in black, attending a conference and glancing toward the camera with a look that might suggest trepidation.

Karadzic's brother, Luka, who was allowed to see him Tuesday, said the fugitive had been living in Belgrade for two or three years but had been out of touch with family members for more than a decade. Karadzic was so confident of his new identity that he reportedly was about to embark on a vacation at a spa for 10 days when he was captured.

Karadzic's daughter, Sonja, told the Associated Press that other family members wished to see him before his likely transfer to The Hague in the Netherlands to face a U.N. war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and other offenses.

"We even suggested traveling under police escort to see him for at least a few hours," she said. "For years, we have not seen our father, husband and grandfather; my mother's health is not very good, and we do not have the financial means necessary to travel to the Netherlands."

Karadzic's family in Bosnia has been under a travel ban because of suspicions that relatives had helped the fugitive evade capture.

On Tuesday evening, riot police patrolled central Belgrade, where a small group of nationalist youths chanted Karadzic's name. There were some minor incidents of violence, including scuffling with police and the breaking of a few shop windows. The crowd quickly dispersed.

The arrest prompted celebration in parts of Bosnia, including Sarajevo, where people poured into the streets after the news spread.

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