Radovan Karadžić

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Radovan Karadžić, 1994
Signature of Radovan Karadžić

Radovan Karadžić [ ˈkaradʒitɕ ] ( Serbian - Cyrillic Радован Караџић ; born June 19, 1945 in Petnjica , Yugoslavia ) is a former Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb politician and convicted war criminal.

Karadžić was Parliamentary President of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1990 to 1992 and President of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1996 . In connection with the Bosnian war , an international arrest warrant against him from the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague had been available since 1996 , which led to his arrest in Belgrade on July 21, 2008 . The Hague Tribunal accused him of ordering war crimes , genocide and crimes against humanity during his tenure as president . In March 2019, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Origin, job, private life

Radovan Karadžić comes from a family whose members fought on the side of the Chetniks in World War II . At the age of 15, he moved to Sarajevo with parents and siblings in 1960 . There he later graduated from high school and began studying medicine , which he completed in 1971 as a doctor of medicine. He then worked as a psychiatrist , initially in the Sarajevo hospital. In 1974/75, after continuing education in Zagreb and Belgrade, he also spent a postgraduate year at Columbia University , New York. After his return he set up his own practice in Pale, 20 kilometers east of Sarajevo, and specialized in group therapy and group analysis in his field of neuroses and depression . According to media reports, he worked as a psychological supervisor for the sports club FC Barcelona in the early 1980s , others locate him around this time in a similar position at FK Sarajevo and in 1983 at FK Red Star Belgrade . Karadžić's mentor was Jovan Rašković .

Radovan Karadžić began to write children's poems and to compose in the style of Serbian folk music at an early age . From 1968 to 1990 he published four volumes of poetry , the first of which, Ludo koplje (German: Crazy Lance ), deals with the fighting spirit of the Serbs. During his stay in Belgrade, he met the then well-known novelist and essayist Dobrica Ćosić , who had a strong influence on him and introduced him to the capital's literary scene.

Radovan Karadžić is married. He has a daughter and a son.

Promotion to President of the Republika Srpska

After the end of the one-party system in Yugoslavia , Jovan Rašković founded the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) in Bosnia-Herzegovina in July 1990 . After several politically prominent personalities had canceled, Karadžić became their first chairman. In the first free elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina on November 18 and December 2, 1990, the SDS won 72 of the 240 seats in the first chamber of the Bosnian parliament under his leadership, making it the second largest group. With his writings and speeches, Karadžić attempted to transfer the image of the enemy that some Serbs had of the Ottomans as former rulers in Southeastern Europe to the (also Muslim) Bosniaks .

After fighting broke out in Croatia in spring and summer 1991 and the formation of the Republic of Serbian Krajina , the Serbian Autonomous Regions of Bosnian Krajina, Herzegovina and Romanija were proclaimed under his rule in September 1991 . In the course of the discussions about the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which at that time was still part of Yugoslavia, Karadžić organized a referendum on November 9, 1991 in the Serbian regions on a common state of the Bosnian Serbs with Serbia , Montenegro and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. 90 percent of Bosnian Serbs agreed to this plan. On January 9, 1992, the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (later renamed Republika Srpska , roughly: "Serbian Republic") was founded, whose first president was Radovan Karadžić.

On January 25, 1992, a referendum on independence was passed in the Bosnian parliament . Karadžić called this a "declaration of war on the Serbs". The referendum held on February 29 and March 1, which resulted in overwhelming support for independence, was boycotted by the Serbian population following calls by Karadžić and other Serb leaders.

Role in the Bosnian war

The war started in 1992

After Bosnia-Herzegovina's independence was proclaimed on March 3, 1992, fighting broke out across Bosnia. On April 1, at Karadžić's instructions, the SDS withdrew its employees from the Ministry of the Interior of Bosnia-Herzegovina, concentrated its power in Pale and started a war against the other Bosnian population groups. Taking advantage of the tensions that existed between the Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks, Karadžić met on May 6, 1992 with Mate Boban , the leader of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Croats, in Graz . The talks on the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina, however, were not concluded successfully, even under international pressure.

By December 1992, the Bosnian Serbs under Karadžić's presidency and the military leadership of Ratko Mladić, with the support of Serbia, succeeded in bringing 70 percent of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina under their control and permanently besieging the capital Sarajevo ( see: Siege of Sarajevo ). Karadžić is accused of having planned and ordered the so-called " ethnic cleansing " and attacks on Bosniak and Croatian civilians that were carried out.

In the following two years there was no significant change in the situation. There have been some international efforts to find a peaceful solution and UN protection zones have been set up for encircled cities such as Srebrenica and Goražde . But especially the maximum demands of the Bosnian Serbs under Karadžić prevented the conclusion of a peace treaty.

Escalation and peace agreement from 1995

It was not until 1995 that there were substantial movements again. After some military setbacks and the end of an agreed four-month ceasefire, Karadžić ordered total mobilization in the Republika Srpska on March 27, 1995 .

In May, with Western support, Croatia succeeded in bringing large parts of Western Slavonia , which had been held by Serbs, under its control. As a result, the Bosnian Serbs began to take UN soldiers from UNPROFOR units hostage . At times, over 300 of them were in the hands of the Serbs. On the orders of Karadžić, Serbian troops under Ratko Mladić took the UN protection zone Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, in which over 40,000 Bosnian refugees were staying. The Dutch UN troops of the Dutchbat unit under Thomas Karremans offered no resistance. While Mladić's troops drove the Muslim women and children towards Tuzla , they murdered most of the male population, at least 6,975 people. On July 20th, the city of Žepa suffered a similar fate. But all residents there were expelled. Despite the capture of both cities, the military situation became increasingly difficult. Croatia had meanwhile also recaptured the areas between Knin and Slunj , which belonged to the self-proclaimed " Republic of Serbian Krajina ". This led to a power struggle between Karadžić and General Mladić. On August 23, Karadžić demanded 63 percent of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina for the Serbs as a basis for new peace negotiations.

Due to the increasing land gains of the Croatian and Bosnian troops, Karadžić finally had to accept that the further peace negotiations were not conducted with him, but directly with the presidents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia, Izetbegović , Milošević and Tuđman . These ended on November 21st in Dayton with a peace agreement. It granted the now so-called Republika Srpska 49 percent of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. For this purpose, these meanwhile conquered areas such as Ilidža and Sarajevo-Grbavica, which until then had been inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, had to cede to the Bosniak-Croatian Federation . Karadžić then organized a referendum in both places, in which the assignment was rejected by almost 100 percent of the participants. However , he was no longer able to prevent the Dayton Treaty from being signed in Paris on December 14, 1995 , which ended the Bosnian War . On February 20, 1996, Karadžić finally ordered the evacuation of the places, which most of the 80,000 remaining inhabitants also obeyed.

Due to continued international pressure, Karadžić had to resign as President of the Republika Srpska on June 30, 1996. The new president was Biljana Plavšić , who was later convicted by the UN war crimes tribunal .

Prosecution by the UN War Crimes Tribunal

Investigation and international arrest warrant

After Sarajevo was heavily shelled by Serbian troops on April 9, 1995, the UN war crimes tribunal announced on April 24 that it was investigating Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. It filed an expanded indictment on November 14, and issued an international arrest warrant on July 11, 1996 . Specifically, he is accused of:

  • genocide
  • Crimes against humanity (displacement, murder, torture)
  • Violations of martial law (including "terrorizing the residents of Sarajevo")

After the OSCE had assumed responsibility for compliance with the Dayton Agreement, it threatened not to admit the SDS to the upcoming elections, so Karadžić had to relinquish the chairmanship of the SDS on July 19, 1996. Despite the arrest warrant, neither the new government of the Republika Srpska nor the international peacekeeping force IFOR made serious efforts to arrest Karadžić. In February 1997 he was able to threaten renewed violence in the event that the city of Brčko , whose status had not been clarified in the Dayton Agreement, was not incorporated into the Republika Srpska.


In the years that followed, there were repeated, sometimes half-hearted, efforts to locate and arrest Karadžić and Ratko Mladić , who were now in hiding , but thanks to the support of government officials of the Republika Srpska and, at first, probably also from Milošević, they were able to come back again and again Revoke access. This is also because they may have been covered by parts of the population, especially in eastern Bosnia. A US $ 5 million reward announced by the United States for clues about the arrest of Karadžić and Mladić did not lead to their arrest. It was only in June 2004 that there were serious indications that the international representative for Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown , intended to find and arrest Karadžić with the help of the NATO force, which had since been renamed SFOR (Stabilization Force). To this end, on June 30, he deposed 59 officials of the Republika Srpska (including SDS chairman Dragan Kalinić ) who were suspected of covering Karadžić and continuing to support him logistically and financially. At the end of July 2005, Karadžić's wife Ljiljana Zelen-Karadžić appealed to her husband on Bosnian and Serbian television to volunteer for the ICTY . The reasons for this she gave the “permanent pressure from all sides”. Karadžić's whereabouts were suspected by EUFOR in the Republika Srpska. In various newspaper reports it was repeatedly claimed that he had been seen at his mother's funeral in the Republika Srpska, in Belgrade or on May 7, 2005 even in Nikšić ( Montenegro ).


On the evening of July 21, 2008, the Serbian Presidential Office finally announced the arrest of Karadžić in Serbia. According to Serbian investigators, before his arrest he had lived undisturbed in Belgrade as "Dragan David Dabić" and worked in a doctor's office as an " alternative doctor" under a false identity and with a greatly changed appearance . At first he was imprisoned in Belgrade; his lawyer had announced a complaint against extradition to the Hague Tribunal, but did not file it.

The real Dragan Dabić works as a farmer and construction worker in Ruma . Karadžić obtained his papers and lived under a false identity until his arrest . After the arrest, Karadzic was initially speculated wrongly Dabić was a 1993 sniper fallen victim.

Criminal proceedings

At the beginning of a negotiation in 2016

Since the morning of July 30, 2008, Karadžić had been in the United Nations Detention Unit , the pre-trial detention facility of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Scheveningen district of The Hague. On July 31, 2008, he appeared for the first questioning before the Hague Tribunal at his own request without a criminal defense attorney. On October 26, 2009, the trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague began without the defendant Karadžić. For the first time during the process, Karadžić made a statement on March 1, 2010. He denied any guilt for the Bosnian war. The Bosnian Serbs had only defended themselves against Islamic fundamentalists who wanted to claim Bosnia for themselves after the fall of Yugoslavia.

The court completed the taking of evidence on May 4, 2012. On June 28, 2012 Karadžić acquitted it on one of a total of eleven counts, genocide in Bosnian communities. Two weeks before this interlocutory verdict, he requested his acquittal on all eleven counts in The Hague. He was charged with ten other crimes during the trial. He remained indicted for the massacre of Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica on charges of genocide and on nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Karadžić, who defended himself at his own request, described himself to the UN tribunal as a “mild and tolerant person” and presented himself as a “peacemaker”. He said he did everything possible to avoid this war, and he also reduced the number of victims. He said that "instead of appearing here as a defendant, he should be honored (for the efforts)." Karadžić once again denied any guilt for the Srebrenica massacre; he had given orders to protect these residents and he knew nothing of the genocide that had taken place there. He only ordered a military operation against Islamic fighters. He also protested his innocence in the long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which killed 10,000 people. Rather, the Muslims or Bosniaks had "shamelessly" staged attacks in order to achieve international intervention in their favor and against the Serbs.

In July 2013 the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia lifted the partial acquittal of 2012.

On March 24, 2016, the UN war crimes tribunal found him guilty of war crimes in the siege of Sarajevo, crimes against humanity in parts of Bosnia and the genocide in Srebrenica which killed 8,000 people and sentenced him to a total of 40 years in prison. Both Karadžić and the prosecutors appealed. On March 20, 2019, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on appeal .

Artistic processing

The 2007 feature film Hunting Party is partly influenced by a group of Western journalists looking for Karadžić.

In the novel The Little Red Chairs by Irish writer Edna O'Brien , one of the main characters is practically identical to Karadžić. The action takes place after Karadžić went into hiding and has been relocated to Ireland.

See also


  • Marie-Janine Calic : War and Peace in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Extended new edition, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1996.
  • Dunja Melčić (ed.): The Yugoslavia War, manual on prehistory, course and consequences. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen / Wiesbaden 1999, ISBN 3-531-13219-9 .

Web links

Commons : Radovan Karadžić  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Thomas Casagrande: The Volksdeutsche SS-Division "Prinz Eugen". The Banat Swabians and the National Socialist war crimes. Campus, Frankfurt 2003 ISBN 3-593-37234-7 , p. 351.
  2. On the run. In: Deutsche Welle of March 2, 2002.
    Hunt for Karadzic: The Phantom. In: Der Tagesspiegel from February 28, 2002.
    Frankenstein's tool. ( Memento from August 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) In: Süddeutsche Zeitung from July 22, 2008.
    Radovan Karadzic - Bosnia's nightmare . In: 20 minutes from November 3rd, 2009.
    Krsto Lazarević: Karadžić: “Not I am on trial, but the Serbian people”. In: TagesWoche from March 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Predrag Pasic and the siege of Sarajevo. In: Al Jazeera of March 27, 2013.
    Ligue 2: “Si j'avais mis ce pénalty, ça aurait pu retarder la guerre en Yougoslavie”, se souvient Faruk Hadzibegic. In: 20 minutes (France) from October 13, 2016.
    Jamie Rodríguez: Petkovic: el 'pacificador' de Suiza huyó de Serbia hace 30 años. In: El Mundo of June 22, 2018.
    Simon Hart: World in Motion: The Inside Story of Italia '90: The Tournament that Changed Football. deCoubertin Books, 2018, ISBN 1-90924-565-8 , p. 401.
  4. Karadzic sightings put pressure on Serbs. In: The Guardian of May 10, 2005.
    Karadzic: Psychiatrist, Poet, Defendant. In: Die Presse of July 22, 2008.
    Karadzic responsible for Sarajevo was crimes. In: BBC of March 24, 2016.
    Krsto Lazarević: Karadžić: “Not I am on trial, but the Serbian people”. In: TagesWoche from March 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Nevenka Tromp: Prosecuting Slobodan Milošević: The Unfinished Trial. Contemporary Security Studies, Routledge, 2016, ISBN 1-31733-526-0 , p. 137, footnote 14.
  6. Poet, doctor and butcher. In: Die Presse of July 22, 2008.
  7. Nataša Krsman: U BiH stradalo 97,207 ljudi
  8. Пораз бошњачке ратне пропаганде
  9. ICTY - Case Information Sheet, charges (English; PDF; 118 kB)
  10. Tagesschau.de: Ms. Karadzic asks her husband to give up ( Memento from April 6, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  11. Spiegel.de: War criminal Karadžić caught in Serbia
  12. Karadžić camouflaged himself in Belgrade with a white beard , Die Welt , July 22, 2008
  13. ^ Karadžić before extradition to the Tribunal , Handelsblatt of July 24, 2008
  14. List of Mladić's apartments published , Der Spiegel , July 25, 2008
  15. Karadžić apparently got a wrong passport in Bosnia , Der Standard , July 24, 2008
  16. Extradition to The Hague: Radovan Karadzic has arrived in prison . In: WELT ONLINE . July 30, 2008. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved on May 23, 2013.
  17. ^ The trial of Radovan Karadzic . WORLD DEBATE. October 26, 2009. Archived from the original on December 30, 2009. Retrieved on May 23, 2013.
  18. Karadzic rejects any guilt Focus Online, March 1, 2010
  19. ^ Srebrenica massacre: taking evidence in the Karadzic trial ended . Focus Online , May 4, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2012
  20. Genocide charges: UN tribunal acquits Karadzic of an allegation . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 28, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  21. War crimes: Radovan Karadzic partially acquitted . In: Spiegel Online , June 28, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. 
  22. Karadzic before UN tribunal: “Everything done to avoid war” . In: Spiegel Online , October 16, 2012. Accessed May 23, 2013. 
  23. spiegel.de July 11, 2013: The Hague: Court rolls up genocide charges against Karadzic again
  24. The Guardian : Radovan Karadžić genocide charge reinstated by UN judges , Karadzic genocide charge reinstated , video (July 11, 2013)
  25. ^ Genocide in Srebrenica: ex-Serb leader Karadzic sentenced to 40 years imprisonment - Politics - Tagesspiegel. In: www.tagesspiegel.de. Retrieved March 24, 2016 .
  26. ^ Application rejected - Karadzic remains in custody. In: www.salzburg.com. Retrieved June 8, 2016 .
  27. ^ War crimes tribunal in The Hague: ex-Serb leader Karadzic sentenced to life imprisonment . In: Spiegel Online . March 20, 2019 ( spiegel.de [accessed March 20, 2019]).
  28. Radovan Karadžić in the Internet Movie Database , see section Trivia .
  29. Martin Zähringer: The attitude of denial. Edna O'Brien's little red chairs . In: Norddeutscher Rundfunk , October 2, 2017.