26 Oct 2009

Karadzic's trial: just victor's justice?

I’m sure he didn’t actually smoke all the time, but I cannot ever remember seeing Radovan Karadzic not smoking.

The fag, the almost quiff-like status of that barnet (easily the most ludicrous of the Balkan wars Vuk Draskovic included) and his often rambling, rapid -fire manner of speaking at assorted press conferences around Bosnia. And assorted they were. Mostly we had the suit, but as the war went on he took command of the army and fatigues suddenly appeared.

But the uniform went just as rapidly. Poor old Radovan found that trying to summarily remove the real army boss Ratko Mladic, from being the real army boss, was never going to play. Ratko was back in charge and remains – unlike Karadzic – on the run.

And that little episode really tells us much about the man who has spent much of his life rapidly reinventing himself to become something quite new as events dictated. Going on the run – as he did for 12 years from 1996 to 2008 was merely another phase.

So he thus became the New Age Psycho-Consultant, grew the beard to Talib proportions, lost the swept back quiff, invested in some heavy frames specs for medical cred and opened up shop to any searchers who might need his path, in a quiet suburb of Belgrade.

Until the Serbian police turned up and busted him.

Because in truth his writ never ran far beyond the minute mini-state of Republika Srpska, centred around Pale, the former Winter Olympic mountain village just outside Sarajevo.

That was often hard to credit in the lead up to the war when he used to call hastily arranged press conferences around the Bosnian mountain towns and villages. They would go on for considerable periods as he expounded his vision of the Republika as part of a Greater Serbia.

He gave, at that time, a convincing sense that he was hot-wired into Belgrade and President Milosevic at least – if not the UN too with his repeated visits there.

Sometime General Mladic would be at his right hand, sometimes not. Sometimes he would be playing the poet (which he also is) or the psychiatrist (which he also is) or the wheeler-dealer (which he also is and has been imprisoned for fraud to prove it).

In short – you knew you would be turning up to hear the Bosinan Serb leader talk to you, or at you or over you – but you never knew quite which Karadzic would be turning up to do so.

And it is that closeness to General Mladic which finally caught up with him and he stands indicted. Now let’s be clear, all this indictment malarky is nothing more than victors’ justice.

But Mladic was in charge during those days in the UN “safe Haven” of Srebrenica. Karadzic was his political boss. Eight thousand Bosnian Moslems ended up shot dead and in mass graves.

Victors’ justice or not – there is, to put it mildly, a case to answer.

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