Russia, US Blocked Karadzic Catch


PARIS (AP) - Both Russia and the United States intervened at times to
prevent the capture of Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Radovan
Karadzic, who is on the run from genocide charges, a former U.N.
official says in a new book.

Author Florence Hartmann says much of the information in "Paix et
chatiment" (Peace and Punishment), in French bookstores Monday, comes
from behind-closed-doors conversations and events she recorded as
former spokeswoman for Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor at the U.N.
war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The book describes the
United States and France blaming each other for
letting Karadzic slip through the cracks, with officials in each
country suggesting the other had a secret deal to protect him.

Karadzic and his military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, are accused of
orchestrating the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim boys and men from
Srebrenica - Europe's worst carnage since World War II - and laying
siege to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Both are charged with
genocide and crimes against humanity.

The tribunal is scheduled to wind up its work by 2010. In June, del
described the failure to apprehend the fugitives as "a permanent
stain" on the tribunal.

Hartmann's book says former French President Jacques Chirac tried to
persuade world leaders of the need to capture Karadzic in 1997 during
a meeting in the garden of the French presidential palace. Former
President Bill Clinton, supported by former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, insisted the arrest could not go forward without informing
Russia, though it was known to be "firmly opposed to Karadzic's
arrest," Hartmann writes.

Chirac finally relented. In a 2000 meeting with del Ponte, Chirac told
her, "Karadzic wasn't arrested because of Russian opposition," the
book says.

According to Hartmann's account, Chirac said that - though he had no
proof - he believed the
United States had signed a secret deal
promising to shield Karadzic to facilitate the peace accords in
Dayton, Ohio, that ended Bosnia's three-year civil war.

The State Department has repeatedly denied any secret deal with
Karadzic, who disappeared from public view in 1998. Chirac's office
declined to comment on the book.

In January 2004, del Ponte was told that Karadzic was under
surveillance and that his arrest was imminent. The Serbs asked
to transfer him to
The Hague, "to the great displeasure of the
Americans, who intervened to suspend the operation," Hartmann writes.
She did not cite clear evidence to back up that claim.

There were also accusations of French deals with war crimes fugitives.

In March 2000, the book says, del Ponte asked Wesley Clark, former
NATO supreme allied commander, whether the
U.S. had a secret agreement
with Karadzic.
Clark in turn accused Chirac of cutting a pact with
Karadzic and Mladic to win the release of two French pilots held by
Bosnian Serbs for three months in 1995, Hartmann wrote.

Clark's office did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Responding to the book, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Frederic
Desagneaux said: "
France has taken part for years in the active search
for suspected war criminals, in close cooperation with local
authorities and the other members of the international community that
present there."