Brussels, 28 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- NATO admitted today that it failed in an effort to capture former Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. NATO spokesman Mark Laity told RFE/RL from Brussels that the SFOR (Stabilization Force) troops did not find the fugitive.
"We did launch an operation intending to locate and arrest Radovan Karadzic, [on] whom we had intelligence [that he] was near the town of Celebici in the Republika Srpska. But when we launched the operation, unfortunately, he wasn't there, so the operation didn't succeed in catching him."
But Laity said the raid sends a message to Karadzic that "the net is closing in on him."
Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said that the capture of Karadzic would be an important development and help residents of the former Yugoslavia put the past behind them.
But Mladen Ivanic, prime minister of Bosnia's Serb entity, said it was unacceptable that NATO launched the operation without first notifying Republika Srpska authorities.
Karadzic, who was the Bosnian Serb leader in wartime, and General Ratko Mladic are among the UN war crimes tribunal's most-wanted suspects.