Karadzic Shuttled To Hague As Supporters Protest

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Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic was extradited Wednesday to The Hague, where he will face war crimes charges. Stefan Niksic, a journalist with Nin — an independent weekly in Belgrade — talks with Renee Montagne.

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Deborah Amos in for Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The man accused of masterminding the worst massacre in Europe since World War II is now in The Hague facing charges of genocide. Radovan Karadzic was flown out of Serbia before dawn this morning. The one-time leader of the Bosnian Serbs who led his followers into an ethnic war was arrested ten days ago, and his extradition to The Hague came just hours after his ultranationalist supporters held a violent protest in the center of Belgrade.

Stefan Niksic is editor of the weekly news magazine, Nin, in Belgrade, and he joins us to talk about this. Hello.

Mr. STEFAN NIKSIC (Editor, Nin): Hello.

MONTAGNE: Now, Karadzic was spirited out of Belgrade in rather a dramatic fashion.

Mr. NIKSIC: The dramatic was his arrestment, actually, because the way he was hiding in Belgrade he was free, at-large. It turns out that he was my neighbor. You know, he used to live in a part of Belgrade where I lived. That was a shock for the public.

MONTAGNE: Well, you're speaking of, of course, of him being arrested and he was disguised or working as a new age healer…

Mr. NIKSIC: Yes, he was discovered working to be as some sort of healer, yes.

MONTAGNE: Remind us of what he did as president of a Bosnian Serb republic in the early 90s that led to these charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.

Mr. NIKSIC: In Bosnia we had a bloody war, you already said. And you were right - that was the biggest massacre in Europe after the Second World War. But one has to be also precise about that. It is definitely established the number of victims in Bosnia is less than 100,000. That is the number of all victims from all ethnic groups in Bosnia.

So, Karadzic is indicted and definitely responsible for big massacres in Bosnia, but he certainly is not responsible for, as it was mentioned, these days, for allegedly 300,000 lives.

MONTAGNE: For, I guess, American listeners, what are the several events that stick out within the broad outlines of this war for which Mr. Karadzic is being held responsible.

Mr. NIKSIC: I think it's a siege of Sarajevo first of all, and then massacre at Srebrenica. This is definitely the case or genocide in Bosnia, committed by the soldiers of the Bosnia-Serb army, and Mr. Karadzic must be responsible for whatever was happened there.

MONTAGNE: That massacre you speak of, just to be clear, that was of somewhere between seven and eight thousand Muslim men and boys…

Mr. NIKSIC: Yes.

MONTAGNE: …in a single event, and Mr. Karadzic is accused of masterminding or orchestrating that event.

Mr. NIKSIC: He was political leader to be quite frank. And so he is responsible at least indirectly, or it's up to the court to establish exactly the nature of his responsibility. But there is also another figure, which his General Ratko Mladic, who was military commander of the Serb military forces on the ground who are responsible for actual committing of these crimes.

MONTAGNE: And then Ratko Mladic is still at large. Do you…

Mr. NIKSIC: He is still at large. And we know…

MONTAGNE: …do you expect him to be captured?

Mr. NIKSIC: Well, if he is located and found - definitely. I mean, one thing is for sure, by arrestment of Radovan Karadzic in Belgrade, at least the authorities in Serbia have proven that they're serious and they do not have any single reason to hide Karadzic or whoever.

MONTAGNE: For years there was talk of a Serbian denial of war crimes committed by some of their leaders in Bosnia during the 1990s. Does the arrest of Radovan Karadzic mean that Serbs themselves are facing up to what was done in their name, if not by them?

Mr. NIKSIC: Well, whoever committed those crimes in those days, certainly he acted as if he was doing that in our name, in the name of Serb nation. But that certainly isn't right. And I would say that we should look on situation as it is today on the ground. The Bosnian Serb leaders in this moment also very much in favor of cooperation with The Hague tribunal, with facing the responsibility of all the war crimes. They also now have admitted that it was a genocide committed in Srebrenica. So, I think it's in everybody's interest in this moment to close this book, to put all those responsible on trial and to go further. I mean, to look in the future.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. NIKSIC: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: We've been talking to Stefan Niksic. He's editor of the weekly news magazine Nin in Belgrade, from where Radovan Karadzic was flown to The Hague a few hours ago.

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