War crimes suspect Karadzic "proud" of past, lawyer says

Other News Materials 24 July 2008 19:22 (UTC +04:00)

War crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic is proud of his time as Bosnian Serb leader and will deny wrongdoing when he faces a UN tribunal, reported dpa, his lawyer was quoted Thursday as saying.

Serb authorities are expected to turn over Karadzic within days to the war crimes tribunal ICTY in The Hague, whose 11-count indictment includes charges of genocide for the 1995 massacre of thousands of Bosnian civilians at Srebrenica.

Karadzic, 63, will tell the tribunal "he is proud of everything he did and of saving Serbs in Bosnia," his lawyer Svetozar Vujacic told the Politika daily.

Karadzic will prove that the accusations are false and that he is charged only because he is a Serb, the lawyer said.

Karadzic was arrested Monday in Belgrade after 12 years on the run, ending an elaborate charade that included an alias, a long white beard, a mistress and an alternative medicine website. He led Bosnian Serbs during the country's 1992-95 ethnic war.

While undercover, he spent time at a Serb Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos, Greece, and a Croatian island in the Adriatic, media reports said Thursday.

Karadzic also allegedly stole 36 million marks from the Bosnian Serb region's central bank in 1997, a Bosnian newspaper said Thursday.

Serbia's secret service is widely believed to have covered for Karadzic over the years. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, who controls the police, says the secret service now arrested him.

Going by the name of Dragan David Dabic, Karadzic may have stolen the identity of a soldier killed by a Sarajevo sniper 15 years ago, Serb media reported.

But the Tanjug news agency later suggested he took the name of a retiree in the town of Ruma, 50 kilometres north-west of Belgrade, where his identity papers were properly issued by local authorities.

False documents were also used by other war crimes suspects arrested in Serbia. Stojan Zupljanin, who was arrested on June 11 in the Serbian town Pancevo, had documents under the name of a man who died more than 10 years ago.

Zupljanin, a former Bosnian Serb police commander, has been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Karadzic "is like an actor, he's transforming and living his part," psychiatrist Leposava Kron told Politika.

"He has a need to be exposed to the public and have intensive social communication. He needs applause and other people," she said. "He sees himself as someone who can get away with anything."

A Bosnian newspaper Thursday quoted a 2005 a interview it conducted with Milorad Dodik, currently prime minister of the Serb entity in Bosnia, in which he claimed that Karadzic in 1997 stole 36 million German marks from the region's central bank.

"There are documents that Karadzic in the spring of 1997 took 36 million marks in a bag from Banja Luka," Dnevni Avaz quoted Dodik as saying. "He first took 28 million marks from the bank's safe and then eight (million) more."

Since Karadzic's arrest, Dodik has offered to help Karadzic's family travel to the Hague and visit him.

The family cannot travel without the permission of the international representative in Bosnia. They've asked for their documents to be returned to them so that they can visit him in Belgrade jail, saying that travelling to the Hague is too costly.

"After 10 years of hell, I don't see why somebody will profit from denying us this," said Karadzic's daughter Sonja Karadzic Jovicevic.

Two years ago, Karadzic spent a summer holiday on the Croatian Adriatic island of Ciovo, Croatian media reported Thursday.

Residents say he visited a local church and spent 10 days on the island, the 24Sata daily said. dpa br zl kp tc ds