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article imageKaradzic: From author of kiddies books to war criminal

By Miriam Mannak     Oct 26, 2009 in World
Radovan Karadzic has many faces. He was a doctor, a psychiatrist, a poet, and a writer of kids books. He also was the man who in the 1990s drenched Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia in blood and hatred - events for which he now stands trial in The Hague.
Born on 19 June 1945 in Petnijca, a small village in the mountains of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, Karadzic spends most of his childhood under the wings of his mother. His father, who fought the Germans during World War II, does not play an active role in Karadzic's life: After fighting the Nazi's, Karadzic Senior ends up opposing the communist forces led by Josip Tito, the first president of Yugoslavia (1953 to 1980). As a result, he is seen as a traitor and jailed by the Soviet Union after the war's comes to an end
Doctor, poet, and writer of children's books
In 1960 Karadzic, at the age of fifteen, moves to Bosnia's capital of Sarajevo, where he studies medicine. Eventually, he graduates as a physician and psychiatrist and marries psychoanalyst Ljiljana Zelen. The couple have two children; daughter Sonja and son Aleksandar Sasa.
During the 1970s and 1980s Karadzic works at various medical posts, including the psychiatric clinic in Kosevo hospital in Sarajevo, the Zagreb Centre for Mental Health in Croatia, and the Health Centre 'Vozdovac' in Belgrade. He also works as the main psychiatrist to the Sarajevo national soccer team. According to records, Karadzic has done a year of medical training at the Columbia University in New York, United States.
It is said that Karadzic - an aspiring poet and writer - spends his spare time giving poetry readings, writing poems himself and writing children's books.
Entering the political arena
With the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1990 - which comes ten years after Tito's death in 1980 - Karadzic enters the world of politics for the first time. Amid a wave of nationalism, he establishes the Serbian Democratic Party in an attempt to unite Serbs throughout the region.
He is a supporter of and supported by Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Serbia and Yugoslavia and who was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with crimes against humanity, violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and alleged genocide for his role during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Milosevic was never convicted, as he died of an heart attack.
Ethnic cleansing
From the beginning, Karadzic threatens neighbors with war if they declare their independence. When Bosnia and Herzegovina ignore him and declare their independence in 1992, civil war erupts in full force. Karadzic gives his forces the order to seize territory for Serbs, mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He appoints general Ratko Mladic as commander of the new Bosnian Serb Army, which overruns 70 percent of Bosnia. In the meantime, Karadzic proclaims himself the president of the Serb Republic within Bosnia.
The main pillar of his land grab campaign is ethnic cleansing: between 1992 and 1995, cities across the region are shelled and attacked, people are driven from their communities, Muslim and Croat civilians are murdered en masse, and thousands of women are subjected to rape. It is estimated that Karadzic's operations killed 100.000 people.
[b]Srebrenica Massacre[/b]
One of the bloodiest chapters of the war is the massacre at Srebrenica, which was proclaimed a safe area for Muslims within Bosnia. Mladic reassures the international community and the peacekeeping force that is present that Muslim refugees will be safe. Eventually, 8.000 men and boys are killed in a scope of two days.
Shortly after the massacre, the UN issues indictments against Karadzic and Mladic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities against civilians throughout Bosnia. A year later, Karadzic - under pressure of major powers - hands over his rule to deputy Biljana Plavsic and goes into hiding.
The former physician and poet manages to stay below the radar until he is discovered living in Belgrade in July 2008, where he has been living for years under a false name and practicing as a traditional healer.
Karadzic in The Hague
He is immediately extradited to The Hague. A year later, on July 31 2009, Karadzic makes his first appearance at the War crimes tribunal, accusing the international community for kidnapping him. He also says his life is in danger and that he wants to handle his own defense rather than using a lawyer. Earlier this month, Karadzic missed his first trail day, arguing he did not have insufficient time to prepare. Seven days later, there seems no escape possible.
More about Radovan karadzic, Karadzic, War bosnia, International court for war, Srebrenica
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