Feature

Did the U.S. break trust with Karadzic?

Radovan Karadzic says the U.S. gave him a &ldquo;gentlemen&rsquo;s agreement&rdquo; not to prosecute him for war crimes as long as he retired from public life, said Milos Vasic in <em>Vreme.</em>

Milos Vasic
Vreme

Accused war criminal Radovan Karadzic is crying foul, said Milos Vasic. The former leader of the Bosnian Serbs says he should not be on trial in the Hague for his many atrocities during the 1992–95 Bosnian war, including orchestrating the genocide of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. He claims that the U.S. promised him that as long as he retired from public life, he wouldn’t be put on trial. This assurance came, Karadzic says, in the form of a personal guarantee from Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy who negotiated the Dayton Accord that ended the hostilities. Several Serbian tabloids have even published a document purporting to be this guarantee. It’s obviously a forgery, though—“Holbrooke is not a fool” and “would never commit such a promise to paper.” Yet there was certainly a “gentlemen’s agreement” not to prosecute. During the decade Karadzic was on the run, Western governments got numerous tips on his whereabouts, yet they never arrested him. Still, he can’t claim that Holbrooke broke the agreement—because Karadzic broke it first. Over the past year, as he hid from authorities, disguised as a New Age guru, he was publishing books and establishing contacts with his radical political party in Bosnia. That is why his arrest finally came. For the West, it’s the best of both worlds: Holbrooke kept his word, and Karadzic was brought to justice.

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