Alleged Karadzic aide jailed in US

NEW YORK, Jan 30, 2000 -- (AFP) A Serb-American man claiming to be a former close advisor to Bosnian Serb ex-leader Radovan Karadzic was ordered held without bail Friday on charges he helped bribe a juror sitting on the case of a notorious New York mobster.

Bosko Radonjich, 56, who has been an international fugitive for more than seven years, was arrested January 1 at Miami International Airport on charges he paid a juror 60,000 dollars to vote "not guilty" on mob boss John Gotti's 1987 Brooklyn federal racketeering case.

Gotti was acquitted in the case, leading to his moniker as the "Teflon Don" for his ability to evade conviction.

Assistant Brooklyn US Attorney Paul Schoeman said Radonjich -- allegedly a former leader in the violent Manhattan crime called the "Westies" -- was apprehended after he inadvertently walked into a US Immigration checkpoint when he arrived on a flight from Cancun, Mexico bound for the Bahamas.

Schoenman said when officials checked his name, the 1992 warrant on the jury-tampering case was discovered and he was placed under arrest.

On Friday, Schoenman asked US District Court Judge Leo Glasser to keep Radonjich in custody, arguing he posed a risk of flight. Glasser ordered Radonjich held without bail pending an April trial date.

Radonjich's lawyer, Lawrence Hocheiser, insisted at the hearing that his client had been unaware of the charges, and instead had returned to his native Serbia where he served as a "freedom fighter" after conflict erupted there. He said Radonjich travelled widely.

"He's not really a fugitive because he left the country to go to Serbia to fight various conflicts and wars before these charges were ever filed," said Hocheiser, who insisted his client was not a "thug."

Radonjich pleaded guilty in 1978 to conspiracy charges stemming from the 1975 bombing of a Yugoslavian's counsul's home in suburban Chicago, Illinois and a second plot to bomb a Yugoslav social club also located in that city.

A 1997 Esquire magazine article on Karadzic portrayed Radonjich as a close associate of the fugitive Bosnian Serb leader.