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Friday, 6 July, 2001, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Where are Karadzic and Mladic?
By BBC News Online's Tarik Kafala

Everybody wants to known the exact whereabouts Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - the Bosnian War leaders indicted for war crimes.

Indications that the Bosnian Serb Government may be ready to co-operate with the criminal tribunal in The Hague have raised the prospect that the two men, the former Bosnian Serb president and his military leader, may be brought before the court.


We are again forced to deny the misinformation that Radovan Karadzic is to surrender to the tribunal in The Hague and that he would testify against Milosevic in exchange for a lighter sentence

Radovan Karadzic's wife Ljiljana
Radovan Karadzic, the man behind modern-day Bosnian Serb nationalism, is believed to be on the run in eastern Bosnia. Nobody is sure exactly where.

According to reports, General Mladic is hiding in his wartime bunker at Han Pijesak, just outside Sarajevo.

Assuming the political will exists - on the part of the Bosnian Serb Government and the international community - bringing the suspects before the war crimes tribunal may come down to a hunt in the unforgiving mountains of eastern Bosnia and a raid on a warren of bunkers. They were dug into Bosnia's mountains during the Communist era in case of an attack on Yugoslavia.

'Not ready to surrender'

Reports that the Mr Karadzic was preparing to surrender to the tribunal, and testify against former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, his patron throughout the Bosnian war, have been denied by Mr Karadzic's wife.

Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic
Karadzic is said to be on the move in the inhospitable mountains of eastern Bosnia
"The attitude of Radovan Karadzic towards that tribunal has not changed, nor will it change under any conditions," Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic said in a recent statement.

"We are again forced to deny the misinformation that Radovan Karadzic is to surrender to the tribunal in The Hague and that he would testify against Milosevic in exchange for a lighter sentence," said Mrs Zelen-Karadzic.

According to Maggie O'Kane, a British journalist who went in search of Mr Karadzic earlier this year, the alleged war criminal is on the move between the towns and villages of Rudo, Visegrad, Cajnice and Foca.


It is time we got on with [capturing Mladic and Karadzic], because it shows the impotence of the West in the face of evil

US Special Envoy to Bosnia Jacques Klein
"There have been sightings of him in most of these areas. There are also allegations that he has been harboured by the Serbian Orthodox Church, that he has stayed in church property," Maggie O'Kane told BBC News Online.

Having lived happily for years in a suburb of Belgrade, General Mladic has felt more vulnerable since Slobodan Milosevic lost power in Serbia.

Most speculation puts him in the bunkers of Han Pijesak near Sarajevo, from where General Mladic led the army during the Bosnia war.

"I think it's logical that he would be in Han Pijesak [which] is a place where Mladic would undoubtedly feel the safest," said Maggie O'Kane.

Raid or handover

Analysts say a commando raid by Nato's S-For soldiers or the British SAS to capture either man might be very dangerous.

General Ratko Mladic
Mladic is said to be hiding in his wartime headquarters
The military bunkers where General Mladic is thought to be hiding are designed to resist attack, and the mountains of eastern Bosnia are an extremely hostile environment. Both men are assumed to be heavily guarded by loyal troops.

Whether Western military leaders are prepared to plan such a potentially risky operation is not clear. But for Jacques Klein, the UN special envoy to Bosnia, the only chance of bringing Karadzic and Mladic before The Hague tribunal is a Western-led raid.

"We have to remember that the local police and intelligence services in the Republika Srpska are under the strong influence of nationalist parties," said Mr Klein.

"And Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic leads what is basically a minority government. The largest party in the Republika Srpska is the SDS nationalist party - Mr Karadzic's party.

"I still think this is a function that Nato S-For will have to do, because they are the only ones with the intelligence, information and capability to do it," he added.

Domestic concerns

There are also domestic political considerations.

Analysts argue that an S-For raid could be highly destabilising if the political groundwork is not set, as it was in Belgrade, before the indicted war criminals are captured or handed over.

Mr Karadzic and General Mladic are still seen by some as nationalist heroes in the Republika Srpska.

However, Jacques Klein argues that Bosnian Serbs may be coming to the conclusion that harbouring Mladic and Karadzic may not be in their long-term interest.

"I think that the Bosnian Serbs now understand that they do have a problem - that Karadzic and Mladic are an albatross around their necks," he said.

"We are going to be trying Milosevic for between 7,000 and 10,000 deaths in Kosovo. That's Karadzic and Mladic in a few days in Srebrenica."

Whatever the political or military considerations, domestic or international, Mr Klein argues that Western leaders have delayed long enough in dealing with Mr Karadzic and General Mladic.

"It is time we got on with [this task], because it shows the impotence of the West in the face of evil," Mr Klein said.


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