Interview: Radovan Karadzic

Former Bosnian Serb leader gives an exclusive interview to Rageh Omaar from his cell in The Hague.

From left: Karadzic in 1994, in 2008 at The Hague and in his guise as Dr Dragan Dabic [EPA]

In the first episode of his new series, The Rageh Omaar Report, Rageh Omaar travels to Serbia and Bosnia to investigate the decade-long period Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Republika Srpska, spent in hiding and to examine his legacy in present-day Bosnia and beyond.

Ahead of the imminent resumption of his trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the former Bosnian Serb leader gave an exclusive written interview to Al Jazeera from his cell in The Hague.

Rageh Omaar: Why have you decided not to attend the trial so far?

Radovan Karadzic: I did not attend the trial in October because I had not been given adequate time to prepare. I am keen to attend my trial provided I am allowed to participate. I am not going to be a plant standing in the rain and snow without the opportunity to actively participate. If I were to do so it would be a shame for me and the Tribunal.

What do you think of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) process in your case and in general?

One can always hope. All I can do is hope for a fair trial.

For 13 years you avoided arrest. How was life as a fugitive? Did you live each day wondering if you were about to be arrested?

There is a saying that whoever is dying from fear has an enormous number of deaths. So I lived – I did not die.

When you look back on your time as Dr Dragan Dabic, how much of him was really you and how much was a part you were playing?

As Dr Dabic, I didn’t do anything that Radovan Karadzic would not do. While Radovan Karadzic was a medical doctor trained in scientific medicine, Dr Dabic practised traditional medicine which has been around for thousands of years. I believe that the two types of medicine are complimentary and should be integrated. There is no reason to abandon such rich experience of the old cultures. In that sense, Dr Dabic was Radovan Karadzic and vice versa.

What exactly were the terms of the deal you have repeatedly stated was made between you and Richard Holbrooke, who served as the US envoy to the Balkans?

Richard Holbrooke, acting on behalf of the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, promised that if I resigned my positions as president of Republika Srpska and the SDS party, did not participate in the upcoming elections, and withdrew from public life, I would not be prosecuted in The Hague.

I fulfilled all of my promises. I am still waiting for Mr Holbrooke to fulfill his.

How do you feel about your role during the Bosnian war?

I had a misfortunate role in a misfortunate war in a misfortunate country.

It was a war that we did not want and that we did not need.

It was a war among Serbs, since the Bosnian Muslims are Serbs who adopted Islam under Turkish rule. It was not in our interest to be enemies.

Our clashes are always tragic for all people in Bosnia and beneficial only to third parties.

Had there been a different leadership of the Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s, the war would have been avoided.

People in Bosnia always wish for peace. There is a habit among people in our country of saying the words “Peaceful Bosnia” at the end of a sentence.

This can tell you how rarely it is peaceful in Bosnia.

The Rageh Omaar Report: The Secret Life of Radovan Karadzic can be seen from Wednesday, February 24, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 1900; Thursday: 0300, 1400; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 1900; Sunday: 0300.

Click here for more on The Rageh Omaar Report.

Source: Al Jazeera

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