The Karadzic makeover: from war crimes to romantic novels

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The Independent Online

The world may want to ask Radovan Karadzic about the massacre of 7,000 Muslim men and boys, but the war crimes fugitive would rather talk about love.

The world may want to ask Radovan Karadzic about the massacre of 7,000 Muslim men and boys, but the war crimes fugitive would rather talk about love.

Having evaded the West for more than eight years, the man who stands accused of genocide during the 1992-95 war in Bosniahas penned a romantic novel. And, yesterday it was presented to dozens of adoring Serb extremists in Belgrade.

Mr Karadzic's book, Miraculous Chronicle of the Night , was presented in the Nikola Pasic bookstore, known for its collection of vitriolic Serb literature. Across town another book, written by Mira Markovic, wife of the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, was launched from a press centre run by the Serbian government.

Neither of the authors could show their faces because they have been on the run for years. Yet, they both retain support and admirers turned up by the dozen yesterday.

"Radovan will not be here with us today, as he is far away both from his friends and enemies," said Miroslav Toholj, who published Mr Karadzic's book and who described the work as an "autobiography and a love novel". The book is set in a town named "S", easily recognised as Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and documents the romance between a Bosnian Serb psychiatrist and his wife during the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the figures who came to dominate Balkan politics in the 1990s are said to be identifiable, while the cover shows Mr Karadzic in civilian clothes.

A psychiatrist, he loved to describe himself as a poet, and has published a dozen books in 20 years.

Mr Toholj said "the authenticity of the work is under no doubt". Mr Karadzic began writing it before the Bosnian war and finished it last August, Mr Tohojl said, adding that he received the manuscript by e-mail.

Mr Karadzic's whereabouts remain a secret, but he is believed to be hiding in the border regions of eastern Bosnia and northern Montenegro.

Yesterday's presentation came after the Bosnian Serb authorities admitted, for the first time, to the full scale of the massacre of 7,000 Muslims in 1995.

An investigative commission reported last week that more than 7,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Srebrenica when Serb forces overran the enclave. It was Europe's worst atrocity since the Second World War.

Many Serbs deny the crime took place and consider Mr Karadzic a "war hero".

"Radovan is okay and he is healthy," his brother Luka also said yesterday.

Almost as productive has been Mrs Markovic, who fled the country in February 2003, and is well known by the nickname "Lady Macbeth of the Balkans".

Her latest book, entitled Keep this Book and printed by her almost dead leftist JUL party, carries a series of interviews she gave to foreign and domestic writers. Her friend, Ljubisa Ristic, described it as "significant".

Mrs Markovic is believed to be living in Moscow, with her son Marko Milosevic, who is infamous for war profiteering during his father's rule.

Most of her books have dealt with her reflections on war, peace, family and flowers. During her husband's rule, her diaries ran in some magazines and were regarded as "political horoscopes".

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