Yesterday just minutes before eight o’clock in the morning local time, a helicopter flew over my house. A moment of joy, I knew it would carry fugitive Karadzic to his final destination, Scheveningen prison, just a few miles away. For days the international media were lined up with their satellite discs and production studio’s to do live broadcast of this very moment.
THE HAGUE (IHT) – Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appeared before a U.N. war crimes judge for the first time to answer genocide charges.
Karadzic, 63, was arrested last week after 11 years on the run. He wore a dark suit and appeared gaunt as he sat in the court.
He appeared at the court after spending his first night in a cell at the U.N. war crimes tribunal detention centre in the Hague.
Since his arrest in Belgrade he has shorn the flowing beard and long hair that helped disguise him as an alternative healer in the years following the war. He was flown to the Netherlands on Wednesday morning.
When I worked as a reporter in besieged Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995, I sometimes fantasized (as many who experienced Serb shell and sniper fire did) about the eventual arrest of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. I imagined him in handcuffs, decked out in his camouflage military attire or in one of his trademark double-breasted suits, his silver plume of well-coiffed hair a reminder of the lifestyle he maintained even after he choked off water supplies to his former home city.
Yet when the bombastic poet-psychiatrist was arrested on July 21, the scene bore no resemblance to the one I had pictured. He wore his hair in a ponytail and sported giant spectacles and a beard. He feebly turned himself over to the Serbian police as soon as they approached him near Belgrade. It had taken 13 years to put Karadzic behind bars, but his final minutes of freedom give some indication of the degrading life he had been leading — and showed the value of international justice, which deserves far more credit than it gets.