July 22, The Sydney Herald Morning

He was accused of masterminding massacres that the UN war crimes tribunal described as "scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history."

Monday's capture of Radovan Karadzic, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs and one of the world's most-wanted men, ended a 13-year manhunt for a genocide suspect said to have resorted to elaborate disguises to elude authorities.

The arrest announcement from Serbian President Boris Tadic's office was stunning.

Although authorities had been said to be closing in on General Ratko Mladic, who was also indicted in 1995 for genocide and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Karadzic's whereabouts had been a mystery for years - and many had all but given up hope of him ever being brought to justice.

Karadzic's reported hide-outs included Serbian Orthodox monasteries and refurbished mountain caves in remote eastern Bosnia.

Over the years, newspaper reports said he occasionally disguised himself as a priest by shaving off his silver mane and donning a brown cassock.

With NATO-led peacekeepers under orders to arrest him on sight, associates said he sometimes traveled in ambulances with flashing lights to zip through NATO checkpoints undetected to spend time with his wife, Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic; daughter, Sonja; and son, Aleksandar Sasa, in the Bosnian town of Pale, the wartime Bosnian Serb capital.

But his wife surprised the public in July 2005 when she appealed to her husband to come out of hiding and surrender "for the sake of your family".

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photo: Radovan Karadzic, inset, and victims of the Srebenica massacre pasted on a wall (Reuters)