Karadzic slipped away with French help, reports claim
An investigation has been launched into claims that a French army officer
deliberately wrecked last week's Nato attempt to capture Bosnian Serb
wartime leader Radovan Karadzic. This is a pretty large allegation - right now we are investigating the reports
S-For spokeswoman Angela Johnson.
The unnamed army captain is said to have telephoned a Bosnian Serb
policeman to tip him off that a Nato operation was about to begin in the
town of Foca, say reports in UK and German newspapers.
"A French officer revealed the (imminent) operation," a US diplomat, Shaun
Byrnes, is quoted as saying by a German newspaper.
However, a US embassy spokesman in Belgrade said Mr Byrnes had not talked
about the affair to anyone.
France heads Nato's multi-national force in south-eastern Bosnia, where
Foca is located.
A spokeswoman for Nato's force in Bosnia, S-For, confirmed that a "very
thorough" investigation was being conducted into the claims.
"This is a pretty large allegation," spokeswoman Captain Angela Johnson
told BBC News Online.
"Right now we are investigating the reports. We have no information at the
moment that suggests it is true. However, appropriate action would be
taken if it was found to be true."
The French have been seen as allies of the Serbs since World War I. Last
December a French army major was jailed for spying for Belgrade ahead of
the Kosovo conflict.
The Hamburg newspaper Abendblatt, which reported Mr Byrnes's alleged
statement, also published what it said were transcripts of the French
captain's conversation with the Bosnian Serb policeman.
Similar reports also appear in the UK's Times and Daily Mail newspapers.
According to the Times, the conversation was monitored by British
The UK Ministry of Defence refused to comment on the reports.
The Nato operation around Foca continued throughout Thursday and Friday,
and the border with Montenegro was reportedly sealed over the weekend.
You should pay attention to Foca
French officer's alleged tip-off
Mr Karadzic is one of the international war crimes tribunal's most wanted
suspects.But S-For said the big manhunt was not continuing on Monday, and "normal"
operations had been resumed.
According to the Times newspaper's account of the alleged conversation,
the French officer rings a Bosnian policeman who is clearly known to him.
The Bosnian policeman is said to sound surprised and indignant at being
called early in the morning, and asks: "What do you want? Why are you
The captain, described as a member of S-For, says: "You should pay
attention to Foca."
The conversation reportedly took place early on Thursday, as US
helicopters were leaving their base in northern Bosnia, giving Mr Karadzic
just enough time to get away.
Allegations that French diplomats and military sources have helped the
Serbs have been made on several occasions.
The most serious claim resulted last December in the conviction for
treason of a French major, Pierre-Henri Bunel, who was found guilty of
tipping off the Serbs about Nato military plans before the Kosovo
He had denied treason, insisting that he had been acting under the orders
of French intelligence services.
In 1998, a French S-For spokesman was removed from his duties after it was
found that he had leaked details of two earlier operations to arrest Mr
And in 1997, a senior war crimes tribunal prosecutor said suspects in the
French sector felt they were living "in absolute security".
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