Thanks to Finding Karadzic reader Graeme
for passing this interesting article along.
SFOR fears Karadžic’s bodyguards
Author: Monitor (Podgorica)Uploaded: Monday, 09 July, 2007
Commenting on the recent arrest of Vlastimir Ðordevic wanted by The Hague, the independent Montenegrin weekly Monitor points out that the same police force on a number of occasions held in its grasp also Radovan Karadžic and Rako Mladic, but let them go.
[In Karadžić’s case] the spectacular action took place on 11 May 1996, when the Serb Orthodox Church organised a procession of relics of St Basil of Ostrog. Radovan Karadžić took part in the subsequent all-night vigil. In the early hours of the morning the RS police informed Karadžić that SFOR was waiting for him at Tjentište, in the valley of the Sutjeska. Germans, Americans and Spaniards were waiting in ambush. Those present were seized with panic. They suggested that Karadžić be bundled into an ambulance car and transferred to safety. Karadžić refused. He ordered his bodyguards to take him to the border.
According to Karadžić’s former bodyguard Vlado Ilić, speaking to the Belgrade media: ‘Not wishing to risk anything, we decided to cross into Montenegro by way of Gacko. We asked permission to enter from the highest authorities in the Montenegrin police and government - which they refused to give. We nevertheless crossed into Montenegro. We drove along the shorter mountain roads. The Montenegrin police sent helicopters. The special unit of the ministry of the interior also went into action. They started to hunt us across Durmitor and Žabljak. They caught us just before Pljevlje and kept us the whole day. Then they released us.’
Asked why the Montenegrin police had released Radovan Karadžić, a former high official of the Montenegrin ministry of the interior replied: ‘Karadžić was trapped. It was a stand-off between our Specials and Karadžić’s armed guards. Long and difficult negotiations followed. The Montenegrin political leaders considered the situation and decided that NATO preferred our boys to get killed arresting Karadžić rather than their own. After much thought they decided to let him go.’ The politicians in question were President Momir Bulatović and Prime Minister Milo Đukanović. The minister of the interior was Filip Vujanović and the head of the state security service Vukašin Maraš.
The Montenegrin police had a close encounter with Ratko Mladić too. In mid June 1997 Mladić visited the Montenegrin coast for a holiday. The general’s summer idyl was spoiled, however, by the Podgorica news agency Montena-fax, which released the news that he was relaxing in Rijeka Kneževića surrounded by fifteen bodyguards. The Montenegrin prime minister, Milo Dukanović, was then asked by the US administration to arrest the general. Đukanović sent in the police. Goran Žugić, born in Tuzla, who had recently left the Bosnian and joined the Montenegrin police, talked to Mladić. He politely asked him to leave Montenegro. But the general had no desire to turn back. He had been only eight days in Montenegro and planned to stay the whole month.
According to the Belgrade paper Dnevni telegraf, Mladić’s reply was: ‘I will not leave. I am a general on active service in the Army of Yugoslavia taking my annual holiday. That is all I wish to say.’ The offended Ratko Mladić thus refused the request by the police to leave Montenegro, warning that he was under protection of the Army. Žugić nevertheless continue to press him, while the Montenegrin leaders pressed Belgrade. Mladić left Montenegro on the following morning. After his departure the minister of the interior, Filip Vujanović, stated that ‘our search has shown that Rako Mladić is not in Montenegro’.
According to the Belgrade media, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić celebrated the Orthodox Christmas of 2003 at the Ostrog monastery, in the company of the leader of the Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolić, and Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović. According to an anonymous monk: ‘This monastery is dedicated to St Basil of Ostrog, so it is a site of miracles. It is a miracle too that our sons Radovan and Ratko have stayed in this holy place, that these greatest Serb heroes have spent here Christmas Eve and Christmas, the day of Christ’s birth, in peace and according to tradition.’
According to Monitor, Radovan Karadžić spent the summer of 2005 at Jovan Do, between Nikšic and Ostrog. It is here that Amfilohije a few years ago erected a church building most of which lies below ground. The Sarajevo police believes that Radovan Stanković, another name on The Hague list, is also hiding in Montenegro or Serbia. A few weeks ago he escaped from prison in Foča, where he was serving a twenty-year sentence for ‘monstrous’ crimes committed during the war in Foča. He escaped in a well-planned action while on his way to the dentist. On leaving the police vehicle, he pushed aside the two guards and jumped into a waiting car. Three days later the car was found on a country path close to Bosnia’s border with Montenegro.
Translated from Monitor (Podgorica), 22 June 2007