- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina Despite a series of high-profile successes by the International Tribunal at The Hague, Europe's two most wanted war crimes suspects remain at large while NATO and local authorities quarrel over who is to blame.
More than six years after the tribunal issued arrest warrants for former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, less is known of their whereabouts than at any other time since the end of Bosnia's civil war.
The two fugitives have been the subject of intense speculation since the extradition to The Hague in late June of their main protector, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, boosted by a $5 million bounty for information leading to their arrest.
They are believed to be living under the noses of French NATO forces in Republika Srpska the Serbian ruled portion of Bosnia established under the Dayton accords that ended the Bosnian war. But Sarajevo newspapers report that they rarely spend more than one night in the same place.
Bosnians assume they travel in well-protected convoys, surrounded by heavily armed militias who remain intensely loyal to their former leaders.
Some speculate that Mr. Karadzic has shaved off his distinctive flowing hair and is being sheltered in an Orthodox monastery in northern Montenegro. Others say he travels disguised as a monk.
Mr. Karadzic and Gen. Mladic were indicted in July 1995 on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, a crime for which Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic was convicted last week. It was the tribunal's first genocide conviction and came little more than a month after the extradition of Mr. Milosevic.
Now prosecutors in The Hague have set their sights on the capture of the two main figures in the Bosnia war, whose continued freedom they have denounced as "scandalous."
"The failure to capture Karadzic and Mladic is a sign of the impotence of the West in the face of evil. Moreover, it has emboldened hard-line Serbs," said Jacques Klein, head of the U.N. mission in Bosnia.
The two were not always so hard to find.
During the 1992 to 1995 war and even after his indictment, Mr. Karadzic lived in Pale, a former ski resort nestled in the mountains above Sarajevo. But his old house, a prominent white fortress overlooking pine-covered slopes, now stands empty.
Mr. Karadzic's wife, Liljana, still practices as a doctor at the small community hospital in Pale and is head of the national Red Cross. His daughter, Sanya, who ran her father's press center during the war, also lives in Pale, where she owns a radio station.
As for Gen. Mladic, he set up his wartime headquarters in a former Yugoslav military base at Han Pijesak, a village lying halfway between Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
He remained there for some time after his 1995 Hague indictment, protected by a phalanx of guards and confident that the NATO-led Stabilization Force (Sfor) troops would not dare to come looking.
He subsequently moved to Belgrade, where he was known to live under Yugoslav army protection and was occasionally reported to have been seen in public. He is believed to have fled to the Republika Srpska in April after the arrest and extradition to The Hague of Mr. Milosevic.
Today, Western diplomats in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, say Mr. Karadzic and Gen. Mladic spend most of their time in the French-controlled part of eastern Republika Srpska, which borders Yugoslavia.
They say the two frequently cross into Yugoslavia, hiding in the remote reaches of northern Montenegro and in western Serbia.
Yet this barren, mountainous region is sparsely populated and the roads are almost empty. Large convoys should be relatively easy to spot by Sfor units that routinely patrol the region.
Both Mr. Karadzic and Gen. Mladic are likely to receive protection from sympathizers in the region, where they still enjoy widespread support. But the number of safe havens open to the fugitives is narrowing, with the pro-West government of Montenegro less than enthusiastic about harboring the men.
International officials suggest many explanations for why they have been able to remain free for so long. The most plausible is that any Sfor unit attempting to capture them likely would sustain heavy casualties.
"Force protection is one issue," confirmed Mr. Klein. "There is an extreme reluctance to have any of our troops hurt.
"There's also the fear of killing Karadzic by mistake, the fear of the reaction in the Republika Srpska, and the fear that someone in the ancien regime would put a bullet in his head. But the bottom line is that there's a lack of political will in Western capitals to have these men arrested."
Many believe the French Sfor contingent, which patrols large swaths of eastern Republika Srpska, has been under political pressure to avoid capturing Mr. Karadzic.
Several previous arrest attempts collapsed, apparently after Mr. Karadzic was tipped off. More recently, reports of a clash between Sfor troops and Mr. Karadzic's bodyguards led to feverish speculation that an arrest was imminent.
The Montenegro daily Dan reported on July 14 that two British Sfor soldiers were wounded in a firefight with Mr. Karadzic's bodyguards in the Bosnian Serb village of Scepan Polje near the Montenegrin border.
Sfor pours scorn on the story, and has repeatedly denied that an arrest operation is under way. "If we come into contact with indictees, we will arrest them," said Capt. Andrew Coxhead, an Sfor spokesman in Sarajevo.
"It's getting harder and harder for these people to hide. The noose is tightening and the political pressure is working, but it's not like every Sfor soldier is wandering around looking for war criminals."

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