Karadzic Grew Long White Beard and Hid in Plain Sight

As NowPublic reported yesterday, Radovan Karadzic, the accused mastermind of crimes of genocide in Bosnia during the mid 1990s, was able to evade capture for a decade, after growing a long white beard that made him virtually unrecognizable.

Radovan Karadzic grew a long, white beard to conceal his identity and even managed to openly practice alternative medicine while in hiding, officials said Tuesday in revealing details about the war crimes fugitive’s capture after a decade on the run.

Karadzic, the wartime leader of Bosnian Serbs, was arrested Monday night in a Belgrade suburb, officials said. A judge has ordered his transfer to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, to face genocide charges, war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said.

Karadzic has three days to appeal the ruling. His lawyer, Sveta Vujacic, said he will launch the process to fight extradition on the last day, Friday, to thwart authorities’ wishes for Karadzic’s immediate transfer.

Karadzic – a psychiatrist accused of masterminding the deadly wartime siege of Sarajevo and the executions of up to 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, Europe’s worst massacre since World War II – had topped the tribunal’s most-wanted list for years.

Government official Rasim Ljajic said Karadzic, once known for his distinctively coifed hairdo, was unrecognizable.

“His false identity was very convincing,” Vukcevic said. “Even his landlords were unaware of his identity.”

Karadzic used a false name: Dragan Dabic, Ljajic said.

There had been widespread speculation about Karadzic’s whereabouts, however, he was not captured in a remote rural location, but near Belgrade:

Karadzic’s whereabouts had been a mystery since he went on the run in 1998, with his hideouts reportedly including monasteries and mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.

The arrest of Karadzic came as a surprise to many, as he was caught while officials sought out another top war crimes suspect:

Karadzic “was arrested Monday evening near Belgrade while changing locations,” he said. “International pressure was to arrest Mladic, and a few had expected that Karadzic would be captured.”

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