BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- The wife of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic added to the speculation yesterday surrounding her husband's possible surrender to a war crimes court, saying Karadzic will "never" give himself up.
Ljiljana Karadzic's defense of her husband was echoed by his closest political ally, Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three-person presidency.
But reports in Belgrade suggested that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been drawn into negotiations aimed at easing Karadzic's surrender.
The contradictions yesterday were typical of the past week's swirl of speculation about whether Karadzic will end up before the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, where he faces an indictment on genocide and related charges.
U.S. officials and diplomats in Bosnia and elsewhere in Europe are predicting that Karadzic's days of freedom are numbered.
Ljiljana Karadzic said in a statement carried by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA, "He will never, ever turn himself in voluntarily, and he will oppose any eventual attempt to arrest, illegally kidnap or capture him.
"He will never recognize The Hague," which is merely laying the groundwork "not for trial but for a lynching and the condemnation of all Serbian people," she said.
Ljiljana Karadzic said she was responding to statements in recent days by Western diplomats who maintain that Karadzic -- increasingly isolated, with his paramilitary police hobbled by NATO -- is attempting to set terms for his surrender.
Ljiljana Karadzic is known for her public gestures of fiercely loyal support for her husband, and her comments were clearly aimed at burnishing his honor and displaying the kind of defiance that was a hallmark of the anti-Western Karadzic leadership.
But speculation that Karadzic will surrender soon may be premature.
His maneuvering room is certainly diminished, with military and political pressure on alleged war criminals growing and with Bosnian Serb moderates more of a force.
But Karadzic has been floating trial balloons suggesting ways that he would be willing to stand trial since last summer. Nothing has come of those gestures.
Western political and military leaders, fearing casualties, have hoped to avoid having to arrest Karadzic.
Krajisnik said yesterday in the Bosnian Serb town of Pale that reports of an imminent surrender were without basis.
Contradicting Krajisnik's public statements, however, Belgrade newspapers said that Krajisnik reported to Milosevic on Thursday that Karadzic was willing to turn himself in under a number of conditions.
Pub Date: 4/12/98