Ah Radovan, heading for the Hague at last.
Many of us never thought we would see this day come, that the unholy trinity of the secret police, the criminals and the priests who protected you would ensure an enduring freedom until your dying day.But luckily for us, even pessimists are wrong, at least some of the time. And so finally it looks like you may be going to face some of your victims in nice room with blue chairs and cameras in a northern European city by the sea.
Having spent some time a few years back investigating your absence from the Hague, your presence or lack thereof became a bit of an obsession with me. I knew your house, your old office, the roads you used to drive, your old bodyguards, your partners-in-crime, assorted rapists and murderers who tried to cut a deal and turn you in, the incompetence of the internationals who said they were trying to catch you, your unattractive wife and daughter ("in hiding" from your womenfolk certainly had its benefits!).
Joking aside, I also got to see your victims and listen to their stories. Again. Six years after the time before and two years after the time before that. Many times. And while the ruined buildings and dark valleys of Srebrenica, Visegrad and a hundred other Bosnian towns and villages remain testament to your banal cowardice and greed, it was the victims' dignity that made your continuing liberty so upsetting.
That you were arrested is surprising, that you were in Belgrade is not. We knew of your presence there as late as 2004, but the government of now retired Balkan cat lover, V.Kostunica was not so keen on expediting your arrest back then.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that one of Kostunica's best mates and co-authors was one of your most vocal supporters. Who knows, perhaps Rade Bulatovic and Voja were just too busy getting high on cat pee to notice you moving round Belgrade in assorted Peugeots and SUVs.
It's not only pseudo-intellectual legalists with severe cases of erectile dysfunction who supported you over the years. Pretty much all the scum I ever came across in the Balkans had done some kind of bizness with your scumbags. It was sans frontieres, baby, no ethnic divides there.US private security companies, British UN monitors, greek demining organisations, orthodox priests (lots of them) Greek orthodox priests (lots of them), Russian poets, French generals, Japanese diplomats, they all shook your hand and shared out slivo and coin with either you or your goons.I could be charitable and say that you may have started out like many of us, Radovan, a bit top-heavy on the ambition, bouffant hair-dos and shape-shifting, but otherwise you might have had the same dreams as any one of more than 150000 first generation city dwellers escaping rural poverty back in 1960s Yugoslavia.
Except there were a couple of things that made you different from the beginning. Your father was a convicted rapist and murderer for one, while the village from which you hailed was known for the kind of rabid political ideas still popular with many Serbian Radical Party supporters to this day. (Radical and DSS supporters, this was a bad hair day for y'all btw)
But back to Greater Serbia and Bosnia, or Radovan and Sarajevo as it was back then. The city treated you pretty well, with its easy inclusiveness and if you'd stuck to informing for the secret police, bribery, chickanery and theft with fellow partner-in-crime M.Krajisnik, then who knows? Perhaps there'd just be a nice chicken farm in Pale, rather than all those new blood-money buildings and mean, suspicious faces.
So I am thinking of Sarajevo when I write this, Radovan, and of Bosnians scattered all over the world thanks in part to you n' Ratko M. I am thinking of how they will be pleasantly surprised tonight.
I am also thinking of a brave group of women who live with the experience of being repeatedly raped and abused by all your 'heroes", who struggle on the pittance paid out by a struggling state on the fringes of Sarajevo and how they will feel tonight.
But I am also thinking of my friends in Belgrade, and how finally, it may be possible that they just might have got a government which will give them a shot of EUland with the rest of us by arresting some more outstanding scumbags now that Mr. Cat Pee has left the stage.
Ratko should be next and while I'm not holding my breath, Radovan, today was a bad hair day for you and a rather better one for Sarajevo.