Those who aided the false identity of captured Bosnian Serb ex-leader Rodavan Karadzic (photo) will be tracked down and punished, say officials investigating. According to Serb prosecutors, he held the identity of Dragan Dabic for a long tome, thanks to papers issued under the regime of president Slobodan Milosevic.
Those who helped Mr Karadzic knew they were committing a criminal act and would be prosecuted, said a spokesman.
The war crimes tribunal in The Hague is pushing for Mr Karadzic’s extradition.
He was captured on Monday, after more than a decade in hiding.
Mr Karadzic clearly obtained his papers from his “friend” in the Milosevic regime, that fell in 2000, said Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor.
He added that the fake ID was issued in Ruma, a town north of Belgrade, possibly with the help of Slobodan Medic, a now-captured local paramilitary commander.
Officials were trying to determine the true identity of Dragan Dabic, but as there were a number of people with that name he would not speculate further, said Mr Vekaric.
In some reports, Mr Dabic was a slain Serb fighter, in others he was a civilian killed in Bosnia’s capital during the war.
Only a few people were aware of Mr Karadzic’s use of the Dabic name and that they would all have to answer to prosecutors, said Mr Vekaric. He also said that he hoped these people would provide information leading to the capture of the remaining war crimes fugitives, like Bosnian Serb military leader Gen Ratko Mladic.
“Whoever was helping Karadzic was committing a criminal act, and they know it”, Mr Vekaric said.
Mr Karadzic “started living his parallel life much earlier” than Gen Mladic, he told the daily Vecernje Novosti.
Serbian media keep talking a lot about Mr Karadzic’s life on the run, in which he masqueraded as an expert in human quantum energy, had his own website and gave out business cards during alternative medicine lectures.
On Thursday, some newspapers printed photographs of a woman in her 40s that they called Mila and introduced as his girlfriend.
In the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad, posters appeared briefly, declaring “we are with you, President”, before police removed them.
Now in custody, Mr Karadzic has had a shave and haircut, and once extradicted in The Hague, he intends to conduct his own defence.
Sveta Vujacic, his lawyer, said he will appeal against the extradition, just before Friday’s deadline. He added that instead of being hand delivered, the document will be posted.
This is a delaying tactic, but it is almost inevitable that Mr Karadzic will be extradited.
Speculation say that Mr Karadzic, 63, intends to do like Mr Milosevic before him, and drag proceedings out for as long as possible, maybe until 2010, when the court’s United Nations mandate runs out.
Mr Karadzic’s arrest showed Serbs were “making a step forward in closing an ugly chapter in their past, and I just hope that Mladic is next”, said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In 1991, he declared independence for Bosnian Serbs, which sparked the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
He has been indicted for crimes against humanity and genocide over the massacre of up to 8,000 mainly-Muslim Bosniaks at Srebrenica in 1995. and he has also been charged over the shelling of Sarajevo, and the use of 284 UN peacekeepers as human shields in May and June 1995.