Man behind Serb's false identity ID'd

July 24, 2008 5:17:03 PM PDT
The real Dragan Dabic has emerged - and the 66-year construction worker was shocked Thursday to discover his identity had apparently been stolen by one of the world's most notorious war crimes suspects.Radovan Karadzic assumed Dabic's identity as a cover during the autocratic rule of his mentor Slobodan Milosevic, officials said Thursday, promising to track down anyone who helped the Bosnian Serb warlord stay on the run from genocide charges for nearly 13 years.

The true Dabic lives in Ruma, a Serbian town just north of Belgrade, according to Rasim Ljajic, a government official in charge of war crimes.

"Dabic's ID differs from Karadzic's only in the photographs of the two," Ljajic said.

That discovery certainly altered Dabic's plans for the day.

"Instead of working in the garden, I'm being besieged by reporters and answering telephone calls," Dabic said in Ruma, adding that he had no idea how the copy of his ID ended up in Karadzic's hands.

"This is unfair. Instead of finding out who really cooked this up, I'm being questioned by police," said Dabic, who has no physical resemblance to Karadzic.

It also meant that all earlier reports on other Dragan Dabics - one official said there were seven dead or alive in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo alone - were tossed aside as false leads.

Officials were trying to figure out whether Karadzic's ID was a fake or an official copy of Dabic's original.

Authorities said Karadzio seize power.

In May, after decades of frustration with nationalists, a pro-Western bloc won national elections on a promise to bring the impoverished nation closer to mainstream Europe.

On Thursday, the government announced plans to reinstate ambassadors withdrawn from the 20 EU countries that supported Kosovo's independence. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said the return of ambassadors will help Serbia's attempts to one day join the European Union.

Serbia has no plans to return its ambassador to Washington or other non-EU states that recognized Kosovo.

In all, 42 nations have recognized Kosovo's independence, including the United States and 20 of the 27 EU members. Serbia, with strong Russian backing, remains vehemently opposed to Kosovo's split.