I never met him. By the time I reached Sarajevo in mid-1996 he was already lying low, although not that low. NATO troops were in effect instructed not to look for him or other war crimes suspects, but to arrest them only if they encountered him "in the course of their normal duties".
This seemed to be interpreted to mean that if they knocked him down while driving to and fro between Sarajevo and Pale that might be a good time to detain him, but not otherwise.
The media this morning are linking him to the Srebrenica massacre in Eastern Bosnia, as that is the one most people have heard of. But the main responsibility for that lies rather with General Mladic – still on the run but now having a lot to think about. Suicide runs in his family…
Karadzic looks to have been a second-rate romantic who became improbably entangled in Bosnian nationalist politics and then was carried away in his own self-importance once the conflict really started. He has to shoulder responsibility for many of the ghastly events occurring during the siege of Sarajevo and elesewhere in Bosnia in the first part of the 1990s. He consistently used his political authority to play games and waste lives.
In 1997 as HM Ambassador in Sarajevo I quietly suggested to London that I try secretly to meet Karadzic with a view to persuading him to surrender – I would have been the first senior international Serbian speaker he would have met. I reckoned that I could find a way to meet him – at that point he had not gone underground completely.
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook liked the idea, but allowed himself to be bamboozled by FCO tweebling and consulted Madeleine Albright, who said No.
So I held back. And it took eleven expensive and frustrating years to get him.
If the Tadic Serbs are smart they will hand him over to ICTY v quickly.
Then should follow a very long and involved (and maybe for some in the West embarrassing) legal process at the end of which he’ll be convicted and receive a massive sentence.