bosnia report
New Series No: 39-40 April - July 2004
RS MUP is not arresting but protecting Karadžic
by Cvijeta Arsenic and Hasan Hadžic

After the ministry of internal affairs of Republika Srpska (MUP RS), stimulated by an anonymous call, had sent more than a hundred members of its special forces to Bratunac on the the border with Serbia, ostensibly in search of Radovan Karadžić, it would not be amiss to remind ourselves of the methodology used in such operations, where the scenarios are regularly identical. For seven months ago members of the Bijeljina ‘Centre for Public Security’ (CJB) too organized an operation to arrest Hague fugitive Radovan Karadžić in the town centre. Karadžić, of course, was not arrested, nevertheless top officials from MUP RS issued an official statement, claiming that they had ‘demonstrated an absolute readiness to arrest Karadžić and other defendants from the Hague tribunal list’. Yet hardly anyone in Republika Srpska believed this. A well informed Dani source from Bijeljina commented that the members of CJB Bijeljina had mounted their operation with a seven-hour delay.

Karadžić popped into Bijeljina for a couple of hours this summer. He briefly visited a Bijeljina church, then returned to Serbia which is his main refuge. I presume that his crossing over onto the territory of Republika Srpska must have been secured rather well, and that members of MUP RS were brought onto the streets of Bijeljina to protect and not to arrest him. This trick was used by MUP RS as an alibi against accusations by the international community that they are involved in providing protection for Radovan Karadžić. I think that an identical scenario was adopted this time in the Bratunac area’, claims our source.

Anyway, the territory of Bratunac municipality is particularly suitable for getting Karadžić’s camarilla across from Serbia to Republika Srpska and vice versa. A few kilometres away from Bratunac, at a place called Ljubovija, there is a border crossing controlled by the State Border Service. However, there are also a few illegal crossings, which lead in the direction of Užice. Despite being densely forested and therefore rather inaccessible, these roads present no obstacle to Karadžić’s powerful jeeps. The fact that Ljubovija is considered to be an area with a strong chetnik following also works in favour of Karadžić’s protectors. The border crossing at Amajlije, near Bijeljina, was also particularly suitable for a while for Karadžić’s crossings, until it became public knowledge that this border was also being used for smuggling Russian and Moldavian women, weapons and drugs.

‘MUP RS was once again up to its usual standards. You know how much they missed by this time? Some 110 kilometres. It is highly likely that Karadžić crossed over from Serbia to Republika Srpska in the first half of March, but returned very quickly as he had done last summer. There is a saying which goes: the wolf is fed, the sheep are all accounted for. There will be more such interventions, but our police will never arrest Karadžić, because it does not want to’, commented our source on the Bratunac operation.

DGS marginalized

At the command levels of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM), quite apart from the credibility or otherwise of this action, there appears to be great concern about the fact that alongside hundreds of MUP officers, a mere three or four agents of the B-H state frontier service (DGS) were involved, even though the action took place in a DGS ‘zone of responsibility’. Our sources close to the latter service’s HQ at Lukavica, meanwhile, stress the fact that they were deliberately marginalized, because in contrast to the Serb entity police force they have a multi-ethnic command structure. The most significant ‘stumbling block’ in the way of the persistent attempt to make the eastern border of Bosnia-Herzegovina purely Serb is reckoned by the highest Serb centres of political and financial power to be Nermin Mrkaljević, chief of the DGS territorial office in Višegrad, which also controls the Zvornik and Bijeljina DGS units. For this daring professional has been subjected to numerous threats on the ground for some time now, as well as to pressures from the DGS command, where ultimate authority is wielded by SDS cadres Slaviša Vuković and Rado Dostanić, while (according to the same source) the Bosniak and Croat commanders – Nijaz Spahić, Enes Gačanin, Robert Perić and Mile Jurić – represent marginalized observers.

According to information Dani has acquired, Novi Sad, popularly and by no means accidentally referred to as ‘the Serbian Athens’, has already welcomed a few Hague fugitives - former chief of so-called SAO [Serbian Autonomous Region] Krajina Stojan Župljanin, general of the Sarajevo-Romanija corps Vinko Pandurević, Ljubiša Borovčanin and others - and there is a possibility that Karadzić occasionally hides in the Novi Sad region. Milenko Karišik, the former commander of a special unit of MUP RS, runs a private company in Novi Sad, while the once most powerful Pale special police force member Ilija Maletić owns a fitness centre in the ‘Vojvodina’ Culture and Sports Complex.

Moreover, Ljiljana Zelen-Karadžić’s brother Miloš Zelen lives in Subotica, pointing to the fact that this area of Serbian territory could be one of Karadžić’s refuges. Apparently, on the territory of Vojvodina alone, within a 50-kilometre diameter there are seven exceptionally well secured shelters kept for Karadžić.

Translated from Dani (Sarajevo), 19 March 2004


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