Bosnian Serb authorities have launched their first ever operation to apprehend the world’s most wanted war crimes suspect, Radovan Karadzic, in a radical shift in policy.
Police raided the house of Orthodox Serb bishop Vasilije in the northeastern town of Bijeljina after receiving a tip-off the wartime Bosnian Serb leader was hiding there.
However they failed to find Karadzic, who has been indicted by the Hague-based war crimes tribunal for genocide and crimes against humanity in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
The raid was hailed as a clear response to international pressure on the Bosnian Serb entity of postwar Bosnia, the only territory of the former Yugoslavia that has not yet arrested a single war crimes suspect.
The mission was praised by the European Union’s Police Mission in Bosnia and the
NATO-led Stabilisation force (SFOR).
Almost eight years after the war, Karadzic is still at large despite a number of attempts by SFOR peacekeepers to capture him and his army chief Ratko Mladic, also wanted by the UN court.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged the two in 1995 for genocide and crimes against humanity.
The pair are most notably wanted over the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995, Europe’s worst single atrocity since World War II.
But Karadzic is still hailed as a hero by many Bosnian Serbs for his role in the war, and he’s believed to be hiding in southeastern Serb-run Bosnia with the help of local supporters.