Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-----------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-----------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Martin Bell MP
"He had a great surface charm, he had charisma"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 11:36 GMT
My 'friend' Arkan

Bell reported widely on the wars in the Balkans


The veteran BBC journalist Martin Bell has been recalling his encounters with Arkan, the Serbian paramilitary leader and gangster who was assassinated in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel at the weekend.


I don't think you necessarily have to feel moral approval of people whose company you enjoy
Martin Bell

Mr Bell, now an independent member of the UK parliament, reported extensively from the Balkans during the war in Croatia and then in Bosnia.

He says that in spite of Arkan's reputation as "killer and a murderer" he regarded the suspected war criminal as "a friend" - sometimes frightening and sometimes charming.

"I think it depends on how you define friendship," he told the BBC's Today programme.


Arkan: A killer and a murderer but he also had charm says Martin Bell

"I don't think you necessarily have to feel moral approval of people whose company you enjoy."

"He had a great surface charm" Mr Bell said, "he had a raw military courage.

"Of course, the man's a killer, but I need access and he provided access so over the years we he had a pretty good working relationship."

Folk hero

Arkan, he said, portrayed himself as a nationalist and orthodox Christian, occasionally producing a huge crucifix that he would wave about whilst denouncing Yugoslavia's former communist leadership.


Rumours are rife in Belgrade about who was behind Arkan's killing

To many Serbs Arkan was and remains a folk hero of the Serbian nation.

As to who could have been behind the weekend's shooting, Mr Bell said that Arkan certainly knew a lot about alleged Serb atrocities and where the bodies of their victims were buried.

With a series indictments being issued by the War Crimes Tribunal against senior members of the Serbian leadership Mr Bell says that Arkan's knowledge would have become increasingly dangerous.

"I always thought that of all the people I knew, [Arkan] was the one least likely to die in his bed."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE


Who pulled the trigger?
Europe Contents

Country profiles

See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arkan murder mystery
15 Jan 00 |  Europe
Gangster's life of Serb warlord
16 Jan 00 |  Europe
Face-to-face with Arkan
16 Jan 00 |  Europe
Arkan murder 'prevents justice'

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories