Is it just me or does everyone wonder how corruptible they might be?
Dr Dragan Dabic looks like a cross between a chilled out new age guru and Father Christmas.
In the alternative medicine community of Belgrade he is well known for his healing work with cancer patients and calm soothing manner. He conducts public meditation workshops and writes a column for the magazine Healthy Life.
In his spare time Dabic writes poetry, leading a local writers group and recently publishing at least one book of poems.
Dabic wears his thick white hair long with a kooky little top knot apparently useful in attracting positive energy to the head of the wearer.
13 years ago Dr Dragan Dabic was Radovan Karadzic, a megalomaniac war lord, famous for inventing the despicable term ‘ethnic cleansing’ as he drove 1.5 million Muslims and Croats from their homes and murdered thousands more.
On perhaps his worst day, in 1995 Karadzic apparently got tired of housing prisoners in his concentration camp at Srebrenica. He opened the gates and told the women and and girls to run for the hills. He then stood by and watched his soldiers slaughter 8000 men and boys, most of them found later buried in mass graves with their wrists bound together.
The Bosnian Civil War is obviously complicated, but from what I understand, absolutely no one saw the “ethnic cleansing” coming. Serbs, Croats and Turks had lived side by side for centuries in Yugoslavia. It 1990 Bosnia was a progressive, artistic, barely religious, culturally diverse melting pot.
Radovan Karadzic’s ultra nationalistic violence still dismays its survivors.
Muslims who knew him before or after the civil war say they cannot connect the man they know with the infamous war criminal.
Karadzic grew up poor in the hills of Montenegro. His father was a political prisoner of the Tito regime. Probably significant.
When he was 15 Radovan moved to the city and worked hard to study medicine. At University he met and married Ljubljana and moved to an ethnically diverse neighbourhood, enjoying the friendships of Serbs, Muslims and Croats alike.
Some of his neighbours from the 1960’s still live in the same building. They remember the young doctor as kind and generous, a charming bohemian who hung out with writers and poets, staying up all night to debate life literature and art.
Mostly, Karadzic’s poetry was ignored. Tragically, that includes the hateful ‘take no pity let’s go / kill that scum in the city’ – a poem he later used as a slogan in his war.
In contrast, Karadzic’s children’s poetry was popular – a book of published works ‘there are miracles’ is still a favourite in Serbian homes.
The young Karadzic eventually became a psychiatrist, studying for a while in the US and even working as the team psychologist for a Sarajevo soccer team. He bought a construction company, gambled, raised two children and remained a high profile ‘crazy poet’ in his groovy ethnic neighbourhood.
Commentators now claim everything up until this point, the late 1980’s, was part of Karadzic’s quest for glory, a craving for fame, eventually satisfied by politics.
At first, Karadzic joined the Greens, but he didn’t last long. A peasant boy at heart, he was raised to the tune of protest songs about ancient battles against the Turks (Muslims). In 1990 as Yugoslavia was beginning to break apart the ultra-nationalists came calling and Karadzic answered.
So which one is the real Radovan Karadzic?
Is it the groovy poet with a top knot and a gift for healing - or the brutal murderer who turned guns and shells on his former colleagues, neighbours, friends and patients?
I’ve heard the civil war in Bosnia described as comparable to civil war in Australia and I wonder how easily an enigmatic madman or woman could turn Queenslanders against Victorians or Territorians?
Did power corrupt Radovan Karadzic or was the evil racist always lurking below the surface?
For his victims and their families, it probably doesn’t matter. This week, at least, may they rest knowing their homeland is now ‘cleansed’ of Radovan Karadzic.
He is finally on his way to The Hague.