Karadzic's capture highlights the shame of the Serbian church

By staff writers
July 22, 2008

Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, who has been arrested in Serbia after more than a decade on the run, will finally face justice after years of support from a network of allies - including many in the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The new government that came to office in Belgrade last month appears to have cleared the way for his arrest, says the BBC.

The Bosnian Serb wartime political leader disappeared in 1996. He has been indicted by the UN tribunal for war crimes and genocide over the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.

The European Union, which the new government hopes to join, has put Serbia under considerable pressure to hand over indicted war criminals to the UN tribunal in The Hague.

However, Mr Karadzic's wartime military leader, Ratko Mladic, remains at large.

While in Saraybosna (Sarajevo) for the memorial of the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, an architect of the Bosnian peace treaty, said Radovan Karadzic was being protected by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the biggest Serbian political party in Bosnia, the Serbian Democratic Party - which he described as "a criminal organisation".

Back in 2004, NATO troops led by the SAS encircled a church and a priest’s family home in the former Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale, a few miles from Sarajevo, in a failed attempt to grab Karadzic.

Amid gunfire and an explosion, a priest and his son were wounded when explosives were used, the first time that civilians had been seriously injured in a raid to arrest the former Bosnian Serb leader.

The raid was widely criticised, but shame and approbrium has also been heaped on the Serb Church for its long complicity in violent nationalism.

A church member who expressed delight that Karadzic will now face justice told Ekklesia that he was "ashamed" at what had been done in the name of Christianity in Serbia nd Bosnia.

"It is important that the Church's leaders are held to account for the crimes they have abetted," he said. "We need an administrative and spiritual transformation."

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