Monday, May 09, 2005

A Funeral in Niksic

One of the world's most closely watched private funerals took place this Saturday in the small town of Niksic in northwestern Montenegro.

It was the final farwell to Jovanka Karadzic. She died in Niksic earlier last week after having been sick for some time. She was 83 years old, and her funeral was attended by high-level Orthodox officials as well as different former politicians.

This, of course, had far less to do with her than with her eldest son Radovan. But he, hardly surprising, was nowhere to be seen.

Radovan Karadzic has succesfully evaded the more or less serious efforts of the international forces in Bosnia to catch him since late 1997.

Prior to that - I know, since I was there - he made no such efforts because he knew that there were no attempts to get him. As a matter of fact, he lived most of the time in his own house in Pale, not far from Sarajevo. It wasn't too difficult to see when he was there and when he wasn't.

Since 1997 his life has been somewhat more difficult, but he in spite of the difficulties he has managed to avoid capture. He has been helped by people obviously professional on these sorts of things, but also by the rather miserable international efforts, with one arm sometimes not aware of what another was doing.

Strangely enough, he seems to remain in the area in which most people have always suspected that he is. The Karadzic family has a legendary name - well before Radovan - in the parts of Montenegro bordering to Bosnia, and the southeast of Bosnia is a difficult area in many different respects.

The mountains of Herzegovina and Montenegro has a tradition of hiding fugitives on the run from far-away authorities. Radovan was not at the funeral in Niksic, but I bet he wasn't too far away either.

Rumour has it that the Croat ex-general Ante Gotovina is also moving around in the mountaneous borderlands of Herzegovina. If Radovan is the eastern Herzegovina area and adjoining countries, Ante might well be spending his days roving western Herzegovina and the countries covering that area.

This summer, it is ten years since the deeds for which they have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in the Hage. The same applies to fugitive ex-general Ratko Mladic.

It's high time they are all given a somewhat more permanent address than they are having at the moment.