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August 1st, 2008
08:30 AM ET

A city lost to war, and reborn

Survivors of the Srebrenica massacre react while listening to news about former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during his appearance at the U.N.'s war crimes tribunal.

Survivors of the Srebrenica massacre react while listening to news about former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during his appearance at the U.N.'s war crimes tribunal.

Alessio Vinci
CNN Correspondent

Editor's note: Alessio has returned to Sarajevo more than a decade after the Balkans war to gauge the reaction to the first day in the war crimes of trial former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Here's what he found:

It's an amazing feeling to return to a city I remember ravaged by war, and realize it has transformed itself into a vibrant, even cosmopolitan center.

Sure, you don't have to look far to find the old scars of war, but the city center and much of its surrounding areas have been rebuilt.

The sad part starts when you talk to people, and realize that the cosmetic changes are, well, just a facade, a desire to hide grief, pain and a sense of anger.

Grief because there are more graveyards and cemeteries than coffee shops (and there are plenty). Pain because when a sniper kills a 2-year-old son there is no amount of forgiveness that could alleviate the suffering.

And anger for not having arrested Karadzic earlier. Anger because this trial will bring back memories people didn't want to forget but were quite pleased to store in the back of their minds.

Then, as the day progressed, and Karadzic appeared in court, that anger was replaced with curiosity - how does he look like 13 years later, and what about that funny white long beard he sported to disguise himself?

That didn't last long... "Why does the judge keep calling him mister?" said one, "when in fact he is a monster?"


Filed under: Alessio Vinci • Bosnia • Crime & Punishment • Global 360°
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. William Courtland

    Penitentiary Complex Scheveningen

    Then where?

    And why is it such a depressed area: is it just the barometric pressures due to altitude and the natural weather conditions, is it always up hill?

    It probably lacks a great deal of first world investment–forestry– irrigated and cropped shepherders lawns–towers, bridge, and tunnels, and all three as homes–stream to pond to river creation, so many public lifts...

    August 3, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I hope the trial gives these people some peace when it is over. It took too long to catch this man and while his trial brings up memories they would rather stay in the dark recesses of their mind, maybe recalling them for this trial will be the last time they have to pull out those memories and look at them.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 1, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  3. Ayse-London

    This article reminds me very much of Northern Cyprus (which the world chooses to not recognise) in that they have lots of cosmopolitan areas, money, and a very western lifesyle, but if you go to places like the bizaare in Nicosia called Bandabulya, and you walk a few meters, you see the bullet ridden buildings, or the museum of the barbarics where a mother and her children were murdered by Greek soldiers during the war as a symbol of the countries history.

    As good as this trial might be, it does not erase the suffering the people experienced, and though some wounds heal, no mother will forget seeing her child killed, no father will forget seeing his son taken away, and no daughter will forget the day Karadzic's men banged on the door and changed her life forever.

    August 1, 2008 at 11:17 am |
  4. Antonio

    I think this will be a very long and insteresting, like he said he was promised by the OTAN that if he dissapears all the charges agianst him will dissapear. I wonder what truth will come out from this.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:03 am |
  5. Cindy

    They have every right to feel all of these emotions. They were dealt with extremely mercilessly. And they will be the ones that are most affected by the results of Karadzic's trial. I would be extremely into the trial too if it meant justice for my people. Let's hope that they get it!

    Cindy...Ga.

    August 1, 2008 at 8:47 am |