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Karadzic: from Sarajevo to the Hague

Radovan Karadzic's arrest is not just good news for his victims - it could also be a security issue for Bosnia.

© NATO Review

Radovan Karadzic now sits in a prison cell in the Hague. NATO Review visited Bosnia to see how news of his arrest was received by the country's two communities, what it means for Bosnia's future direction and asks if Karadzic can be guaranteed a fair trial.

Video length: 16:30

 Subtitles: On / Off

Radovan Karadzic, the infamous Bosnian-Serb leader during the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The man who warned Bosnia's Muslims they could be annihilated if they declared independence.

(on screen): Think not that you won’t lead Bosnia and Herzegovina into hell,

(on screen): ... as well as cause the disappearance of the Muslims....

(on screen): ... because the Muslim people cannot defend themselves if war comes.

The man whose army and orders tried to make that threat a reality over the next three years.

Two cities bear particular testimony to his brutality: Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

At Srebrenica Karadzic and General Mladic were charged

with killing 8,000 men and boys after the demise of the UN’s first safe haven.

Evidence will be presented at his trial that the killings included well-planned executions...

(on screen) : Don't be afraid. No one will be harmed.

... lies and the bombing of fleeing civilians.

Men aged up to 77, down to boys as young as 12 were killed.

At Srebrenica the massacre was carried out over a few days, in Sarajevo it took nearly 4 years.

The city was pounded with artillery, mortars and sniper fire.

(on screen): These people have no food, no milk for children, no chocolate... no nothing!

Of the 12,000 people killed over 1,000 were children.

Despite being attacked and encircled by Serb forces, Sarajevo never fell.

NATO Review goes back to Sarajevo, the scene of the

Bosnian War's worst war crimes to see the reaction to Karadzic’s capture.

And we look at what this means for the future and the security of the country and the region.

Since the war, Nidzara Ahmetasevic has been tracking down Radovan Karadzic.

I survived the war in Sarajevo. Many of my friends were killed and wounded.

I was wounded. Many of my family members were like badly wounded or killed during the war.

What was her reaction when she heard of Karadzic's arrest?

When Karadzic was arrested I felt like that's the end of the war. But it's not, unfortunately.

Raffi Gregorian is the Deputy High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Before he worked for NATO and the U.S. government specializing in the Balkans

As one of Karadzic’s most dedicated pursuers, how did he react to Karadzic's arrest?

I felt kind of like when I finished my Ph.D., although this took a little bit longer.

What I expected to be a feeling of relief and elation turned out to be just numbness.

Mention the word Sarajevo to many people in the West

and it will conjure up images of a wartime city under siege.

Sarajevo wants to move on.

This week is the Sarajevo film festival with visitors from around the world.

So how much does the arrest of Karadzic mean to people in Sarajevo today?

(on screen): He's a criminal and he's worse than Hitler.

His arrest shocked me as I felt he never would be, so there is some justice in this area

Karadzic is already in The Hague where he awaits trial

by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

You are charged with genocide,

punishable under Articles 4-3A, 7-1 and 7-3 of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Sir Geoffrey Nice was the lead prosecutor in the trial in The Hague of Slobodan Milosevic.

I'm suggesting to the accused, through the witness, or to the witness,

I don't know who it is, that the total of 93 prisoners is a false,

and indeed, an intentionally false figure.

Does Geoffrey Nice think that if Karadzic's crimes were committed in the region

then his trial should be in the region?

I thought this would be the best place for his trial. Maybe it's too early for that.

It would be good to try him where the crimes are said to have been committed.

For the witnesses to be able to come on a daily basis

and not to be taken to the alien environment of The Hague.

The tribunal was started due to the failure of the regional powers

This tribunal was set up in large part to deal with Karadzic and Milosevic.

And I think if there's to be any sense of judicial impartiality,

notwithstanding my own views on the matter, the only place you can have that

would be in The Hague for the International Tribunal for these two figures.

One difficulty thrown up by trying Karadzic in The Hague

is that many Serbs and Bosnian-Serbs still distrust The Hague tribunal

We went to Pale, Karadzic's base during and after the war,

to gauge how people there saw his arrest and forthcoming trial.

Already it's clear that we're in Serbian territory. This is Republika Srpska.

The signs are often in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Serbian flags hang from several buildings,

The first building we saw here has an appropriate name.

Building sign -- Enigma

This is central Pale, Karadzic's adopted home town. He was arrested in 2008,

almost 13 years after his indictment by The Hague War Crimes Tribunal.

That indictment charged him with genocide, persecutions and killing

non-Serbs in attacks on towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He's also charged with rounding up thousands of non-Serbs into camps

where allegedly non-Serbs were killed, tortured, mistreated and sexually assaulted

Yet for a year after that indictment, in July 1995,

he was seen walking and living freely in the centre of this town.

Initially many responses were guarded.

(on screen): All of them, no matter the nationality, must be accountable to justice

for the crimes they have committed.

But soon we heard some people voicing the loyalty

that Karadzic had enjoyed when he lived in the town.

Can you tell me if you were happy when you heard that Radovan Karadzic had been arrested?

(on screen): I felt very bad. I was really unhappy. And I'd like the whole world to know that

I'm not happy whatsoever that he has been arrested.

For some, Karadzic's capture is still too sensitive a subject.

(on screen): I'm not ready to answer that question.

Bosnian-Serb doubt about The Hague Tribunal isn’t just because

they feel Slobodan Milosevic did not receive a fair trial.

They also point to The Hague's acquittal of Muslims charged with war crimes,

such as Muslim wartime commander Naser Oric.

Mr. Oric, would you please stand up? You are found not guilty and therefore acquitted of...

under count one, failure to discharge your duty as a superior

to take sufficient measures preventing the occurrence of murder.

(on screen): So now people have to be afraid of that bandit... he chased the Serbs out.

Naser Oric?

(on screen): Yes, yes... that's him.

But this belief overlooks the fact that Oric was actually found guilty on some charges.

You are found guilty of failing to discharge your duty as a superior,

to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of murder...

Is this Serbian scepticism about The Hague justified?

We now have 159 out of 161 indictees have gone to The Hague

or been processed in some way through the Tribunal proceedings.

And there have been some very important judgements in those cases.

As well as people being cleared of charges as well.

I think it’s fair, but due to politics, people say the court is biased.

The court proceeds on the basis of facts presented before it.

Bruce McLane, who succeeded Raffi Gregorian as political advisor at NATO HQ in Sarajevo agrees.

One of our problems in this country, with people's attitudes of the

procedures, is that there are many people

who feel that the ICTY is biased especially on the Serb side,

that the international community holds the Serb’s accountable for the war.

These kinds of trials have the opposite effect. They show that those who

committed the crimes, are held accountable for those crimes.

Does Geoffrey Nice feel that The Hague can guarantee Karadzic a fair trial?

its up to the judges, there's no reason why not. They have to be firm

in getting the evidence they need, at the request of the parties.

But of course they can give this man a fair trial. That's what judges are there to do.

I don't know the Karadzic evidence in detail, but at least at first sight,

it’s stronger than the evidence against Milosevic.

He said things in Assembly sessions he will have difficulty dealing with.

Indeed, there are reasons why the trial will be more compact than Milosevic’s.

Analysts worry about the political structure of Bosnia & Herzegovina

due to the many elections that it had since 1996.

Many more than countries, particularly in Western Europe. The other worry is

people are voting on ethnic rather than national interests.

And they wonder where this is heading.

Is it feared that Karadzic's trial plays a role in Bosnia and Herzegovina's elections in 2008?

It's my supposition that it will not cause significant problems,

although you can be sure that in the run-up to the October municipal elections,

this and other issues will be exploited by people for the wrong reasons

According to Raffi Gregorian, this issue shouldn't even be on the election radar.

It's odd, because these are municipal elections. They have nothing

to do with issues about entity or state status.

In truth municipal elections should be about the collection of

garbage and the streets are being paved.

So you can see all over this country, politicians diverting

people's attention from real governance challenges...

... and dealing, instead, with ridiculous issues like the Karadzic family and

who is the bigger supporter of them for municipal elections.

Radovan Karadzic’s capture has implications for the Balkans region.

What are the implications for Serbia, the country which arrested him?

To reiterate, It's a positive sign for Serbia, where there was a struggle for its

democratic soul, and pro democracy forces have won.

The arrest of Karadzic and Mladic are requirements of Serbian domestic law,

not to mention international legal obligations under the UN.

What I think is that this was a good political moment. Not only for Serbia,

but probably the best one for Serbia.

But also for the international community, EU and the US, because they are

the entities most involved in the Balkans.

The upcoming trial gives The Hague Tribunal a chance to show its objectivity in trying

war criminals. Will Karadzic's trial be more successful than Milosevic's?

There's no reason for it to be a long trial, Milosevic’s case was three wars,

a ten year period and concluding in two years, but for his ill health.

For Raffi Gregorian the key focus must be Karadzic's crimes.

Enough people have filled column inches of discussion about supposed

deals and completely ignored the crimes that the man is accused of doing ...

... and for which he was already found guilty

in the United States courts of having run rape camps.

Is the trial of Karadzic enough for the region to move on?

No, we have to see Mladic in Hague.

Without him it's not the end. It's just not the end, because if...

I mean, it's horrible to live in the world when somebody like Mladic is free.

It’s horrible if you're a Bosnian or human being.

And I don't think it's over until we get Mladic. I mean, Karadzic

was the political leader. He's the one that set the policies.

Mladic executed the military aspects of this. The two figures are

different personas. One is like a pathological killer, the other a pseudo-intellectual.

Very soft-spoken demeanour, but as I mentioned before, pathological liar.

But Mladic, through his own public statements,

made clear he knew exactly what he was doing. Exactly what he was doing.

Many people who suffered in Sarajevo have a stoic outlook on Karadzic's arrest.

This is a step forward in closing a painfully vivid past.

Several numbers are mentioned in the Bosnia and Herzegovina war. Sarajevo’s

43 months siege; Srebrenica’s 8,000 men and boys who were killed.

But the numbers in this Sarajevo graveyard are largely '92, '93, ‘94 and '95.

Those are the years of death marked on most of these graves.

Civilians and soldiers who died during the war. These graveyards are not hidden.

Most are in the heart of the city, as they were once Sarajevo city parks.

So while Karadzic's arrest can bring some closure,

it is far from the final chapter in this story.

(on screen): His arrest left me spiritually relieved. But day to day life calls for

one to go to work. And I just hope that politically things will get better.

For us the war isn’t history. We are still living... we are still living in

a kind of... not war, but post war country.

And I'm not sure, despite the day of Karadzic’s arrest felt like end of the war,

but it's not, unfortunately. We still live with that.

And we will probably have to live with that for many more years in front of us.

Radovan Karadzic, the infamous Bosnian-Serb leader during the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The man who warned Bosnia's Muslims they could be annihilated if they declared independence.

(on screen): Think not that you won’t lead Bosnia and Herzegovina into hell,

(on screen): ... as well as cause the disappearance of the Muslims....

(on screen): ... because the Muslim people cannot defend themselves if war comes.

The man whose army and orders tried to make that threat a reality over the next three years.

Two cities bear particular testimony to his brutality: Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

At Srebrenica Karadzic and General Mladic were charged

with killing 8,000 men and boys after the demise of the UN’s first safe haven.

Evidence will be presented at his trial that the killings included well-planned executions...

(on screen) : Don't be afraid. No one will be harmed.

... lies and the bombing of fleeing civilians.

Men aged up to 77, down to boys as young as 12 were killed.

At Srebrenica the massacre was carried out over a few days, in Sarajevo it took nearly 4 years.

The city was pounded with artillery, mortars and sniper fire.

(on screen): These people have no food, no milk for children, no chocolate... no nothing!

Of the 12,000 people killed over 1,000 were children.

Despite being attacked and encircled by Serb forces, Sarajevo never fell.

NATO Review goes back to Sarajevo, the scene of the

Bosnian War's worst war crimes to see the reaction to Karadzic’s capture.

And we look at what this means for the future and the security of the country and the region.

Since the war, Nidzara Ahmetasevic has been tracking down Radovan Karadzic.

I survived the war in Sarajevo. Many of my friends were killed and wounded.

I was wounded. Many of my family members were like badly wounded or killed during the war.

What was her reaction when she heard of Karadzic's arrest?

When Karadzic was arrested I felt like that's the end of the war. But it's not, unfortunately.

Raffi Gregorian is the Deputy High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Before he worked for NATO and the U.S. government specializing in the Balkans

As one of Karadzic’s most dedicated pursuers, how did he react to Karadzic's arrest?

I felt kind of like when I finished my Ph.D., although this took a little bit longer.

What I expected to be a feeling of relief and elation turned out to be just numbness.

Mention the word Sarajevo to many people in the West

and it will conjure up images of a wartime city under siege.

Sarajevo wants to move on.

This week is the Sarajevo film festival with visitors from around the world.

So how much does the arrest of Karadzic mean to people in Sarajevo today?

(on screen): He's a criminal and he's worse than Hitler.

His arrest shocked me as I felt he never would be, so there is some justice in this area

Karadzic is already in The Hague where he awaits trial

by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

You are charged with genocide,

punishable under Articles 4-3A, 7-1 and 7-3 of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Sir Geoffrey Nice was the lead prosecutor in the trial in The Hague of Slobodan Milosevic.

I'm suggesting to the accused, through the witness, or to the witness,

I don't know who it is, that the total of 93 prisoners is a false,

and indeed, an intentionally false figure.

Does Geoffrey Nice think that if Karadzic's crimes were committed in the region

then his trial should be in the region?

I thought this would be the best place for his trial. Maybe it's too early for that.

It would be good to try him where the crimes are said to have been committed.

For the witnesses to be able to come on a daily basis

and not to be taken to the alien environment of The Hague.

The tribunal was started due to the failure of the regional powers

This tribunal was set up in large part to deal with Karadzic and Milosevic.

And I think if there's to be any sense of judicial impartiality,

notwithstanding my own views on the matter, the only place you can have that

would be in The Hague for the International Tribunal for these two figures.

One difficulty thrown up by trying Karadzic in The Hague

is that many Serbs and Bosnian-Serbs still distrust The Hague tribunal

We went to Pale, Karadzic's base during and after the war,

to gauge how people there saw his arrest and forthcoming trial.

Already it's clear that we're in Serbian territory. This is Republika Srpska.

The signs are often in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Serbian flags hang from several buildings,

The first building we saw here has an appropriate name.

Building sign -- Enigma

This is central Pale, Karadzic's adopted home town. He was arrested in 2008,

almost 13 years after his indictment by The Hague War Crimes Tribunal.

That indictment charged him with genocide, persecutions and killing

non-Serbs in attacks on towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He's also charged with rounding up thousands of non-Serbs into camps

where allegedly non-Serbs were killed, tortured, mistreated and sexually assaulted

Yet for a year after that indictment, in July 1995,

he was seen walking and living freely in the centre of this town.

Initially many responses were guarded.

(on screen): All of them, no matter the nationality, must be accountable to justice

for the crimes they have committed.

But soon we heard some people voicing the loyalty

that Karadzic had enjoyed when he lived in the town.

Can you tell me if you were happy when you heard that Radovan Karadzic had been arrested?

(on screen): I felt very bad. I was really unhappy. And I'd like the whole world to know that

I'm not happy whatsoever that he has been arrested.

For some, Karadzic's capture is still too sensitive a subject.

(on screen): I'm not ready to answer that question.

Bosnian-Serb doubt about The Hague Tribunal isn’t just because

they feel Slobodan Milosevic did not receive a fair trial.

They also point to The Hague's acquittal of Muslims charged with war crimes,

such as Muslim wartime commander Naser Oric.

Mr. Oric, would you please stand up? You are found not guilty and therefore acquitted of...

under count one, failure to discharge your duty as a superior

to take sufficient measures preventing the occurrence of murder.

(on screen): So now people have to be afraid of that bandit... he chased the Serbs out.

Naser Oric?

(on screen): Yes, yes... that's him.

But this belief overlooks the fact that Oric was actually found guilty on some charges.

You are found guilty of failing to discharge your duty as a superior,

to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of murder...

Is this Serbian scepticism about The Hague justified?

We now have 159 out of 161 indictees have gone to The Hague

or been processed in some way through the Tribunal proceedings.

And there have been some very important judgements in those cases.

As well as people being cleared of charges as well.

I think it’s fair, but due to politics, people say the court is biased.

The court proceeds on the basis of facts presented before it.

Bruce McLane, who succeeded Raffi Gregorian as political advisor at NATO HQ in Sarajevo agrees.

One of our problems in this country, with people's attitudes of the

procedures, is that there are many people

who feel that the ICTY is biased especially on the Serb side,

that the international community holds the Serb’s accountable for the war.

These kinds of trials have the opposite effect. They show that those who

committed the crimes, are held accountable for those crimes.

Does Geoffrey Nice feel that The Hague can guarantee Karadzic a fair trial?

its up to the judges, there's no reason why not. They have to be firm

in getting the evidence they need, at the request of the parties.

But of course they can give this man a fair trial. That's what judges are there to do.

I don't know the Karadzic evidence in detail, but at least at first sight,

it’s stronger than the evidence against Milosevic.

He said things in Assembly sessions he will have difficulty dealing with.

Indeed, there are reasons why the trial will be more compact than Milosevic’s.

Analysts worry about the political structure of Bosnia & Herzegovina

due to the many elections that it had since 1996.

Many more than countries, particularly in Western Europe. The other worry is

people are voting on ethnic rather than national interests.

And they wonder where this is heading.

Is it feared that Karadzic's trial plays a role in Bosnia and Herzegovina's elections in 2008?

It's my supposition that it will not cause significant problems,

although you can be sure that in the run-up to the October municipal elections,

this and other issues will be exploited by people for the wrong reasons

According to Raffi Gregorian, this issue shouldn't even be on the election radar.

It's odd, because these are municipal elections. They have nothing

to do with issues about entity or state status.

In truth municipal elections should be about the collection of

garbage and the streets are being paved.

So you can see all over this country, politicians diverting

people's attention from real governance challenges...

... and dealing, instead, with ridiculous issues like the Karadzic family and

who is the bigger supporter of them for municipal elections.

Radovan Karadzic’s capture has implications for the Balkans region.

What are the implications for Serbia, the country which arrested him?

To reiterate, It's a positive sign for Serbia, where there was a struggle for its

democratic soul, and pro democracy forces have won.

The arrest of Karadzic and Mladic are requirements of Serbian domestic law,

not to mention international legal obligations under the UN.

What I think is that this was a good political moment. Not only for Serbia,

but probably the best one for Serbia.

But also for the international community, EU and the US, because they are

the entities most involved in the Balkans.

The upcoming trial gives The Hague Tribunal a chance to show its objectivity in trying

war criminals. Will Karadzic's trial be more successful than Milosevic's?

There's no reason for it to be a long trial, Milosevic’s case was three wars,

a ten year period and concluding in two years, but for his ill health.

For Raffi Gregorian the key focus must be Karadzic's crimes.

Enough people have filled column inches of discussion about supposed

deals and completely ignored the crimes that the man is accused of doing ...

... and for which he was already found guilty

in the United States courts of having run rape camps.

Is the trial of Karadzic enough for the region to move on?

No, we have to see Mladic in Hague.

Without him it's not the end. It's just not the end, because if...

I mean, it's horrible to live in the world when somebody like Mladic is free.

It’s horrible if you're a Bosnian or human being.

And I don't think it's over until we get Mladic. I mean, Karadzic

was the political leader. He's the one that set the policies.

Mladic executed the military aspects of this. The two figures are

different personas. One is like a pathological killer, the other a pseudo-intellectual.

Very soft-spoken demeanour, but as I mentioned before, pathological liar.

But Mladic, through his own public statements,

made clear he knew exactly what he was doing. Exactly what he was doing.

Many people who suffered in Sarajevo have a stoic outlook on Karadzic's arrest.

This is a step forward in closing a painfully vivid past.

Several numbers are mentioned in the Bosnia and Herzegovina war. Sarajevo’s

43 months siege; Srebrenica’s 8,000 men and boys who were killed.

But the numbers in this Sarajevo graveyard are largely '92, '93, ‘94 and '95.

Those are the years of death marked on most of these graves.

Civilians and soldiers who died during the war. These graveyards are not hidden.

Most are in the heart of the city, as they were once Sarajevo city parks.

So while Karadzic's arrest can bring some closure,

it is far from the final chapter in this story.

(on screen): His arrest left me spiritually relieved. But day to day life calls for

one to go to work. And I just hope that politically things will get better.

For us the war isn’t history. We are still living... we are still living in

a kind of... not war, but post war country.

And I'm not sure, despite the day of Karadzic’s arrest felt like end of the war,

but it's not, unfortunately. We still live with that.

And we will probably have to live with that for many more years in front of us.

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