The daughter of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader serving life for genocide and crimes against humanity during the 1990s Yugoslav wars, has claimed her father is living in unhealthy and “uncivilised” conditions in a British prison.
Karadzic, 75, who was convicted in 2016, was transferred from a detention unit in Holland to a UK jail earlier this month following an agreement struck between the UN and the Home Office.
But his daughter, Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic, has complained about the conditions at her father’s new prison after speaking to him on the phone.
“As for the physical condition in which he is accommodated, it is unacceptable,” she told SRNA, a news agency based in the Republika Srpska, the Serb enclave of Bosnia.
“If we add to that the fact that he is in a building full of carcinogenic asbestos that is banned around the world, it is clear in what condition he will be in.” Ms Karadzic-Jovicevic also claimed that moving her father to the UK was a deliberate act of spite against his family.
“My father is in a very uncivilised situation, and as far as his family is concerned, his relocation to the south of England was deliberately made to keep him far away, outside the rules of the United Nations Resolution adopted by the Security Council,” she said.
“It will be very difficult for us physically, financially and procedurally, because of visas, and immunisation during the pandemic, and even after that, to ever go there and visit him,” she continued.
She added that he had been deprived of his books and his computer, and will be “completely removed” from his language and his culture.
A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said: “UK prisons meet health and safety standards.”
Ms Karadzic-Jovicevic, who has a political career in Bosnia, has fought to defend her father’s name despite his brutal role in the wars as the Yugoslavian federation separated in the 1990s.
Known as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, Karadzic went down in infamy, in particular for ordering the Srebrenica Massacre in July 1995.
Some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up by the Bosnian Serb army in and around the town of Srebrenica and then killed in the worst single massacre in Europe since the end of the Second World War.
Karadzic’s lawyers had objected to his client’s transfer to the UK, arguing that his life would be in danger owing to Muslim inmates in British prisons.
They also argued that owing to possible threats to Karadzic’s life he would be kept in conditions resembling solitary confinement, but the UN court dismissed the objections.
Given his role in the slaughter of Muslims, the experience of another Serb convicted of war crimes may also weigh upon the Karadzic family.
In 2010 Radislav Krstic, a former Bosnian-Serb general, was stabbed by three Muslim prisoners while serving a sentence in Wakefield prison, in apparent retaliation for Srebrenica.