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by Vesna Peric Zimonjic

Serbia's Best-Selling Authors: Accused War Criminals

(IPS) BELGRADE -- Serbians are still in shock after revelations that Radovan Karadzic was living in Belgrade as a psychiatrist and bio-energy healer, holding seminars and lectures, and writing for the magazine Healthy Life under the name Dragan Dabic.

Since 1995, Karadzic was one of the most wanted men in the world after the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) accused him for genocide in the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

He and the commander of Bosnian Serb Army Ratko Mladic, who is still at large, are accused of masterminding the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in Bosnia in July 1995. Their forces held Bosnian capital Sarajevo under bloody siege for three-and-a-half years. The shelling of Sarajevo took more than 10,000 lives.

The new looks of the once bulky Karadzic (63), a qualified psychiatrist, shocked the public when Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic and top official for cooperation with the ICTY Rasim Ljajic showed photographs of Dragan Dabic to reporters after Karadzic's arrest earlier this week.

The tall and slim man dressed in black, with a long white beard, a ponytail on top of his head and thick spectacles did not seem to resemble Karadzic in any manner. His wartime trademark was a mane of pepper and salt hair and dark eyebrows.

Archive footage, up to about a year old, from several local TV stations surfaced in the course of days, showing Dabic at lectures in provincial Serbia. He had a constant companion, 53-year-old Mila Damjanov.

And while media dug up information on his love life, his rented flats around Belgrade, and the shops and church he went to, questions arose how the most wanted man could have lived like this.

Some analysts say the man simply needed to be under the spotlight of some kind. During the war in Bosnia, Karadzic was often in international and Serbian media, bragging about the war successes of Serbs and their bravery.

"He changed his social and physical identity, but did not change the psychological one," Leposava Kron from the Institute of Criminology told IPS. "He remained what he was. He has not become a multiple personality. He knows all the time who he really is. It would be a kind of psychological suicide for him not to address the public and hear applause."

Whatever his motives, many say that the secret of who helped him over 13 years should be revealed. Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, who took office earlier this month, has said only that "those who protected him have given him away."

Dacic is from the Socialist Party of late leader Slobodan Milosevic, who led Serbia into the wars of the 1990s, but which now tries to put the past behind. He is a member of the coalition government led by Democrat Mirko Cvetkovic.

The new head of the Security and Intelligence Agency (BIA) Sasa Vukadinovic took over Jul. 17. Karadzic was arrested on the evening of Jul. 21.

"What Dacic says is basically right," analyst Misa Brkic told IPS. "The secret police that provided Karadzic with a false identity, and his financial supporters were slowly leaving him since 2000. They were apparently the creators of the myth that Karadzic hid in the eastern Bosnian or Montenegrin mountains for years. It is only the secret police that could have given him the new identity, places to work, a magazine to write a column in.

"Until the coming of the new government, there was no political will in Serbia for the arrest," Brkic added.

Most of Serbian media seems fascinated by the mystery of Karadzic's lifestyle, and few ever mention why he was wanted by the ICTY. If mentioned at all, the Srebrenica massacre is described as "alleged," while the siege of Sarajevo is barely talked about.

A lot of space is also given to Karadzic's family members who live in Pale, near Sarajevo. Their documents were taken away a while ago by the Office of the High Representative of the international community Miroslav Lajcak, because the family was suspected of helping Karadzic.

Lajcak turned down an appeal by his family to get their documents back and come to Belgrade to see Karadzic. "The children of Karadzic (son Sasa and daughter Sonja) will have the opportunity to see their father for many, many years. One cannot say that for relatives of victims in Srebrenica and other places in Bosnia."

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Albion Monitor   July 29, 2008   (

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