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West 'lacks will to get Karadzic'

NATO launched most recent search after reports Karadzic was injured.
NATO launched most recent search after reports Karadzic was injured.

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzogovina -- A senior U.N. prosecutor has said a lack of political will by the West means genocide suspect Radovan Karadzic is unlikely ever to be arrested.

The former Bosnian Serb leader is wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for alleged genocide for the slaughter of Bosnians in the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim males.

But Karadzic and his wartime commander General Ratko Mladic, who was also indicted by The Hague court, have evaded several attempts by NATO-led peacekeepers to seize them.

Following a four-day manhunt around Pale, near Sarajevo, earlier this month, Karadzic's followers taunted NATO, saying "our people" would keep him from the clutches of the West. (Full story)

And on Monday U.N. deputy prosecutor Graham Blewitt appeared to agree with them. "Nothing happens that would give me a reason to believe he will be arrested," he told Sarajevo's main daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz.

Reuters later said it had confirmed the comments -- the most critical yet of the West from a member of the war crimes tribunal -- were genuine.

"We at the tribunal have been constantly told that there is political will in the West to arrest Karadzic but I have to say openly that I don't believe in that," Blewitt said.

Referring to the recent capture of the ousted Iraqi president, he added: "Look what happened to Saddam Hussein. There, there was political will to snatch him -- and they snatched him. Had there been the same such will for Karadzic, he would be in The Hague."

Blewitt, who said Karadzic could stay at large until his death, also announced he would leave his post for personal reasons in mid-2004 after 10 years with the tribunal and return home to Australia.

NATO peacekeepers search vehicles in Pale earlier in January.
NATO peacekeepers search vehicles in Pale earlier in January.

The recent manhunt for Karadzic was triggered by a tip that he was hurt and needed medical treatment and had to risk going back to one of his most closely watched old haunts at Pale. (Karadzic profile)

But there was no sighting of him during the operation in the Bosnian Serb wartime headquarters.

Pale, in the mountains above Sarajevo, was a Serb stronghold during the bloody Bosnian war in the early 1990s.

In 1995, a peace accord signed in Dayton, Ohio, ended the war between Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs. The conflict was Europe's most deadly since World War II. More than 200,000 people died.

According to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, 20 indicted suspects are still at large, including former Bosnian Serb President Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic.

The U.N. tribunal indicted the two men for the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995 and the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people died. Human rights activists have criticized NATO for failing to capture Karadzic and Mladic.

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