At the time of the parliamentary elections in Serbia earlier this summer, the possibility that Radovan Karadzic, once the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, might be handed over to stand trial at The Hague seemed remote. The acquittal of the former KLA leader Ramush Haradinaj in April had stunned opinion in Serbia and added to the sense that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was a Serb-grinding machine which spat out Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians and Croats intact. The idea of any more Serbs going on trial was not popular: even someone like Karadzic, born in Montenegro, long resident in Sarajevo and regarded by many as a ludicrous figure. His arrest late last month illustrates how rapidly things are changing in Serbia, and how keen the new pro-European leadership is to drive its policies forward. The process of EU accession has long been conditional on the delivery of the big three: Karadzic, Goran Hadzic, a Croatian Serb wanted for the massacre of Croats in Vukovar in 1991, and Ratko Mladic, the hands-on commander at Srebrenica. But the capture of Dr Karadzic - psychiatrist, poet, New Age healer, telegenic bigot and mass murderer - is the greater public relations coup.
LRB 14 August 2008 | PDF Download