Bosnian Muslims celebrate Karadzic's arrest

News of the Monday evening arrest of the former Bosnian Serb leader spread throughout the Bosnian capital within minutes — even before it was reported by local media.

Bosnian Muslims celebrate Karadzic's arrest
Bosnian Muslims celebrated the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, Bosnia's most wanted war crimes suspect.

People gathered on the streets of Sarajevo in the night to celebrate the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, the man charged with genocide over the deaths of some 11,000 of their fellow citizens in a 43-month siege.

"This is the best thing that could ever happen, you see people celebrating everywhere," said Sarajevo resident Fadil Bico. "I called and woke up my whole family".

News of the Monday evening arrest of the former Bosnian Serb leader spread throughout the Bosnian capital within minutes — even before it was reported by local media.

Residents poured into the streets singing, chanting, calling everyone they know. Many spilled out of central bars in shock — overwhelmed at the news they had been waiting to hear for over a decade.

Ignoring the pouring rain, young men ran down the main street waving Bosnian flags. Some dropped to their knees, slammed their palms against the ground and chanted "This is Bosnia!" — in apparent retort to Karadzic's war time attempts to annex the country to Serbia.

"I still cannot believe it," said Zijah Sehic, 18, leaving one of the raucous crowds to go home and watch more news on TV. "I can't wait to see him in the tribunal in a few days."

Bosnian TV carried reports from other mostly Muslim-dominated cities in Bosnia, where similar street celebrations were taking place.

In Kozarac, in northern Bosnia, the organizer of a rock concert interrupted the program to announce the news but received only laughter from the audience and thumbs up for a good joke.

Only after enough mobile phones rang and rang and rang did the crowd begin to grasp what had happened, said Zinaida Mahmuljin, who was in the audience. Then the party really started, she said.

In Srebrenica, a mother who lost two sons in the Srebrenica massacre that Karadzic is alleged to have masterminded welled up with emotion as she watched the news on television.

"After 13 years, we finally reached the moment of truth. For the sake of justice, General Mladic should be arrested too, as well as Karadzic," Munira Subasic told AP television. "I think this brings some settlement in our hearts and brings us forward to the future."

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, also indicted for war crimes, remains at large.

Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic welcomed Monday's arrest but noted that Karadzic's legacy of ethnic cleansing had left scars that were still visible today. Over 100,000 Bosnians are dead and hundreds of thousands of those expelled in Karadzic's ethnic cleansing campaign have not returned to their homes.

Still, Silajdzic said the arrest will restore victims' trust in the justice system, a comment echoed by others.

"We have been waiting for 13 years and we lost hope," said Kada Hotic, a survivor of the worst atrocity in Europe after World War II — the Srebrenica massacre. "Now we know — there is justice."

Agencies
Last Mod: 22 Temmuz 2008, 15:21
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