Radovan Karadžić

Karadžić, Radovan (räˈdōvän käˈräjĭch) [key], 1945–, Bosnian Serb physician, author, and political leader, b. Savnik, Montenegro, Yugoslavia. The son of a Serb nationalist and World War II resistance fighter, Karadžić studied medicine and became physician specializing in psychiatry; he also was a published poet and became politically active. In 1990 he co-founded the Serbian Democratic party, and in 1992, as Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, he became president of the breakaway Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the Bosnian civil war (1992–95), he sought to rid Serb-dominated Bosnian regions of non-Serbs. Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Croats were driven from their homes, held in camps where they were tortured and starved, and raped and slaughtered. Karadžić was held responsible for these war crimes, including the massacre of Bosniaks in Srebrenica in 1995 and the killing of thousands of civilians during the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.

Charged (1995) by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, he was forced to give up (1996) his party and government posts after the Dayton Agreement (1995). Still popular with many Serbs, he was not arrested, and went (1997) into hiding. International pressure finally led to his capture in Belgrade in July, 2008, and he was transferred to The Hague, where he was brought before ICTY in Aug., 2008.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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