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Bosnian War Crimes Suspect Hides

May 2, 1998

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Deep in hiding, Bosnia’s No. 1 war crimes suspect reportedly is plotting revenge on his former patron, planning testimony implicating Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in wartime atrocities.

According to a book that outlines Radovan Karadzic’s defense strategy, the Bosnian Serbs’ wartime leader can even corroborate Western intelligence reports linking Milosevic directly to the massacre of thousands of Muslims from Srebrenica _ possibly Europe’s worst horror since the crimes of World War II.

Karadzic, 54, recently fled his stronghold village of Pale, just east of Sarajevo, and is believed to be hiding elsewhere in Bosnia, considering a surrender to NATO-led peacekeepers. For now, however, hard-line allies and his wife, Ljiljana, have talked him out of it.

Karadzic indirectly has contacted several American and Greek lawyers to represent him at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, sources close to him said.

The sources _ who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons _ said two Greek lawyers, whom they declined to name, had accepted.

The sources said Karadzic could heavily implicate Milosevic, who is widely blamed for instigating the Croatian and Bosnian wars but has not been publicly indicted by the U.N. tribunal.

Karadzic apparently wants revenge. Milosevic, who backed him militarily and politically for most of the war, dumped Karadzic in 1995 before signing a U.S.-sponsored peace plan.

Karadzic also plans to shift blame to his wartime military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The tribunal has charged both men with genocide and crimes against humanity for the deaths of thousands of non-Serbs and for driving tens of thousands from their homes in a campaign of ``ethnic cleansing.″

Mladic, believed to be living in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, has been in the limelight far less than Karadzic.

It was not known whether Karadzic was hoping for immunity against prosecution in exchange for his testimony or whether the tribunal would grant such a thing.

Outlines of Karadzic’s likely defense appear in the book ``The Hague Against Justice,″ written by prominent Belgrade legal expert Kosta Cavoski, a close friend and Karadzic ally, and circulated in Bosnia in recent months.

The small, blue tome is thought to have been funded by Karadzic, and contains copies of his written orders to Mladic to obey international war conventions, let humanitarian and Red Cross convoys pass freely, disband Serb paramilitary units and arrest Serb soldiers who commit war crimes.

A section of the book defends Karadzic against charges that he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Muslims when Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

By then, it says, Karadzic had lost control of the Bosnian Serb army to Mladic. Milosevic, it claims, commanded regular Serbian troops and paramilitaries also involved in the massacre.

``Whereas earlier Dr. Karadzic did have a degree of control over the military top brass and the field commanders of the (Bosnian) Serb army, at the time of operations around Srebrenica and immediately after, these field commanders rebelled completely against civilian control,″ says the book, made available to The Associated Press.

At the time, Milosevic ``was on the side of Ratko Mladic and against Dr. Karadzic,″ the book adds.

``Armies never have two commanders, so if Serbian forces in Srebrenica were not under the control of Dr. Karadzic, this means they had to be under the control of that different commander,″ the book says. ``That different commander ... could be no other than Slobodan Milosevic.″

New reformist Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik confirmed in an interview that he heard Karadzic was preparing his defense, saying it would be ``better for everyone″ if he gave himself up.

The Pale sources said Karadzic is considering surrender. He remains quite popular among Bosnian Serbs, making it risky to snatch him _ even if NATO knows where he is.

``No one I know would just sit and watch if they try to kidnap Karadzic,″ said Pale resident Milorad Janjatovic. ``But I would be the first to send him to The Hague if Alija and Tudjman would stand trial with him,″ he added, referring to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.

Serbian media reports place Karadzic in different locations in Bosnia. The sources said he moves around, guarded by about 200 security men. He is reported to have lost weight and to be restless in his virtual captivity.

His wife still lives in their Pale house. In late April, a large yellow sign saying ``No Trespassing, Private Property ″ was erected nearby.

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