SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina – From psychiatrist and poet to leader of the Serbian resistance in Bosnia, Radovan Karadzic ultimately chose a brutal path.
Born in 1945 into a poor family in Savnik, Yugoslavia, Karadzic moved to Sarajevo in 1960 to study medicine. By 1971 he was practicing psychiatry in the ethnically mixed Bosnian capital, writing poetry and a children's book. In 1985, he was tried for embezzlement of public property while building a family house and served 11 months in jail.
But by 1990, with nationalism on the rise, Karadzic shifted his focus to politics, forming the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) that led to his election to parliament in the first democratic elections after the fall of communism the same year.
As the Yugoslav republics were breaking away one by one, first Slovenia, then Croatia, Karadzic warned non-Serbs in Bosnia not to declare independence from Serb dominated Yugoslavia, telling them clearly what would happen if they did.
"Do not think that you will not lead Bosnia and Herzegovina into hell, and do not think that you will not perhaps lead the Muslim people into annihilation because the Muslims cannot defend themselves if there is war," he said in October 1991.
Karadzic, who saw himself as a historic figure who would unify all Serbs in a common country, led the Serb resistance to the majority vote for Bosnia's independence in 1992 and declared himself the leader of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian Serbs armed and backed by the Yugoslav Army conquered some 70 percent of the country, laying siege to its capital and killing and expelling non-Serbs from the territory they controlled.
The conflict took over 100,000 lives and forced over two million people from their homes.
In July 1995, his troops overran the town of Srebrenica and executed over 8,000 men and boys in the worst massacre in Europe since the Nazi era.
Karadzic was indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in 1995, one of the 11 counts relates to genocide in Srebrenica. He went into hiding and evaded arrest for 13 years before he was caught in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2008, where he hid masked as a New Age healer. He made himself unrecognizable growing a thick beard and long, grey hair.
Karadzic defended himself during his trial, which started in 2009, denying all the crimes he was accused of and claiming he was a "man of peace."