A mistress, a bogus family he said he left in the US and regular visits to a bar called "The Madhouse" where he sipped wine below a picture of himself in his heyday — these are among the details that have emerged about Radovan Karadzic's secret life.
Since his arrest on Monday, Serbs have been enthralled by the former Bosnian Serb leader’s transformation from a suit-and-tie politician who led Bosnian Serbs to their country’s ethnic bloodletting into a long-haired health guru.
Genocide charges against him and his upcoming extradition to the UN war crimes court have taken a back burner to every new revelation.
Karadzic’s metamorphosis was so complete that many of his neighbors say they are struggling to comprehend how the friendly man they knew as Dr Dragan David Dabic could have turned out to be one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives.
“His new life was fascinating. He hid in the open,” criminologist Leposava Kron said.
Karadzic, who had been on the run for nearly a decade, had a girlfriend he presented as an associate in the alternative medicine business he ran, said Zoran Pavlovic, a software engineer.
Pavlovic said Karadzic hired him in February to set up a Web site to advertise his expertise in “human quantum energy.”
Pavlovic said he had visited Karadzic’s apartment in a grim suburb of the capital called New Belgrade once or twice a month to discuss the project. On a table was a framed photograph of four boys — all dressed in yellow LA Lakers T-shirts — who Karadzic said were grandsons living in the US.
Karadzic claimed to have lived in New York City and that he “got his diploma” in the US.
“He told me he traveled often to America and I had no reason to disbelieve him,” Pavlovic said.
Karadzic was always dressed in black and often complained that money was hard to come by, Pavlovic said.
“Frankly, he scared me a bit. I thought he belonged to some religious sect or something, with that beard and all, but I treated him as any other client,” Pavlovic said.
He displayed gold and silver-plated, bullet-shaped metal objects that Karadzic had given him and which he used in his healing practices to attract “cosmic energy.”
Karadzic introduced the girlfriend only by her first name, Mila — an attractive brunette in her early 40s — and Pavlovic said she sometimes offered her own suggestions for the Web site. Karadzic remained officially married to Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, who lives in their family house in the former Serbian stronghold of Pale.
“If anyone knew who he really was, she [the girlfriend] must be the one,” Pavlovic said.
Attempts to track down Mila for comment were unsuccessful on Wednesday.
Karadzic’s neighbors had only praise for him.
“He was always polite, offering his services to help my husband, who had a stroke,” said Milica Sener, a neighbor who lives one floor down. “But I declined. We don’t believe in alternative medicine.”
Shopkeeper Gordana Blagojevic said Karadzic bought yogurt and whole-grain bread at her store every other day, sometimes with his girlfriend in tow.
“I was shocked to hear who he really is,” Blagojevic said.
Pensioner Milica Bjelanovic said Karadzic moved to the neighborhood about a year and a half ago. She described him as a quiet man whose striking appearance — a kind of bushy beatnik Santa with long hair worn in a plaited top-knot — made him an oddity.