Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused architect of massacres making him one of the world's top war crimes fugitives, was arrested on Monday evening in a sweep by Serbian security forces, the country's president and the U.N. tribunal said.
Karadzic is accused of masterminding mass killings that the U.N. war crimes tribunal described as “scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”
He is accused of organizing the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica and other atrocities of the Bosnian war.
He was indicted on genocide charges in 1995 by the tribunal, and topped its most-wanted list for more than a decade, allegedly resorting to elaborate disguises to elude authorities.
Serbia has been under heavy pressure from the European Union to turn over suspects to the international tribunal.
President Boris Tadic's office said in a statement that Karadzic was arrested “in an action by the Serbian security services.”
If Karadzic is extradited to the tribunal in The Hague, he would be the 44th Serb suspect extradited to the tribunal. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial on war crimes charges.
“This is a very important day for the victims who have waited for this arrest for over a decade. It is also an important day for international justice because it clearly demonstrates that nobody is beyond the reach of the law and that sooner or later all fugitives will be brought to justice,” the tribunal's head prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said.
Karadzic has been a fugitive since he was indicted in July 1995. Charges against him include genocide, murder, inhumane acts, and other crimes committed during the 1992-95 war.
His indictment alleges that he, acting together with others, committed the crimes to secure control of areas of Bosnia which had been proclaimed part of the “Serbian Republic” and significantly reducing its non-Serb population.
Karadzic's reported hide-outs included Serbian Orthodox monasteries and refurbished mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.
As leader of Bosnia's Serbs, Karadzic hobnobbed with international negotiators and his interviews were top news items during the 31/ 2-year Bosnian war, set off when a government dominated by Slavic Muslims and Croats declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992.
But his life changed by the time the war ended in late 1995 with an estimated 250,000 people dead. He was indicted twice by the U.N. tribunal on genocide charges stemming from his alleged crimes against Bosnia's Muslims and Croats.