The capture of Radovan Karadzic, Balkans' mini-Hitler and Serb butcher of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the 1992-1995 upheaval in Bosnia and Herzegovina, after he had "eluded" the Belgrade authorities for 13 long years might prove to be a landmark step of the government of President Boris Tadic as it removes one of Serbia's major hurdles to the membership of the European Union. It does not necessarily reflect its genuine desire to see the man, who is a standing stigma to Serbs, brought to justice; most likely, it was the keenness of the Tadic's pro-Western government to establish its credentials as a suitable partner of the EU states. For that reason, Tadic threw out the security chief who had been appointed by former Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, a diehard nationalist, and replaced him with an official of his own choice. And it took the new man less than two weeks to get hold of the fugitive. Thus, the real impetus for Karadzic's capture was the lure of massive subsidies and consequent development of Serbia expected to result from the EU's association. The story of Karadzic's "long and successful elusiveness" and quick arrest by an EU enthusiast government also points to another scenario. The former governments just whiled away more than a decade, floating myths of inaccessible mountainous hideouts and remote, obscure monasteries, to hoodwink the world. They actually knew his whereabouts as he was freely roaming about in Belgrade under a false name and running a clinic, but wanted to shield him from the trial. The EU membership was not so dear to them as to sacrifice a Serb "patriot" of his standing. The characterisation of Karadzic's arrest as "one of the worst days of Serbian history" by the party of Kostunica, till recently Serbia's prime minister, proves the point that the nationalists were not willing to swap the man for boosting the country's chances of EU membership. Kostunica's party vowed to topple Tadic's govt on this score. Besides, Serb nationalists and Karadzic supporters demonstrated in the streets against his arrest, calling it "treason". US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who played a key role in negotiating the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995, is right when he says, "He was at large because...the army was protecting him." Although the Bosnian Serb government acknowledged in 2004 that the Serbs had massacred thousands of Muslims on Karadzic's orders, the Serb nationalists would not relish the thought of the atrocities - the brutal murder of more than 100,000, including 8,000 unarmed boys and men first rounded up and then murdered in Srebrenica, rape of 20,000 women in a calculated campaign of terror and expulsion of 1.8 million Muslim and Croat from their homes in Bosnia-Herzegovina - being raked up that would inevitably happen at the time of the trial. The list of charges Karadzic will face before the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is pretty long and includes genocide, complicity in genocide, wilful killing, persecution and other inhuman acts committed directly under his orders, encouraged or connived by him. In all, there are 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity pending against him. Although European leaders have, as expected, hailed the capture of Karadzic, they must insist on the rounding up of other villains of the piece, like war-time commander Ratko Mladic and police chief Stojan Zuplijanin, before making a move for Serbia to join the EU. In view of its eagerness to become part of the EU, the present government at Belgrade affords the best chance of locating these culprits and handing them over to the Hague tribunal. One hopes that the tribunal would have straightened out its procedure of trial and unlike Milosevic, who was able to endlessly raise extraneous issues and thus delay the proceedings' conclusion, Karadzic's trial would be smooth and as quick as possible; for slow justice is no justice. But, unfortunately, if the idea behind the punishment of leaders committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities is to dispense justice as well as deter others at the helm from following the evil course of murderous suppression, it only partially works. The element of deterrence becomes relevant only in the case of those leaders who fall foul of big and influential powers, which themselves feel free to blatantly perpetrate any crime they feel could serve their designs. Even those minor players on the world political stage who offer their country's cooperation and resources to promote the big powers' interests go Scot-free. The examples of Iraqi President Saddam Hussain, his aides and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while tell us of their just deserts, they also raise serious questions about the system's assumed even-handedness; for have the brutalities against unarmed civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and countless other unnamed prisons not outdone the crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina? And are they not crying for justice? E-mail: