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The capture of Saddaam Hussein

6 Infamous War Criminals Hunted Down

Saddam Hussein is discovered by American soldiers in December 2003 | Image: Public Domain

Hunting Hitler sees an international team of world renowned investigators on the ultimate manhunt in search of the most infamous war criminal in history. Here are six other infamous war criminals who were tracked down and discovered in hiding.

1. Paul Touvier

Nicknamed the “Hangman of Lyon,” Paul Touvier is the only Frenchman to be accused of war crimes, for his role during World War II. Facing a death sentence, Touvier went into hiding and lived as a fugitive for several years, surviving by selling bootleg chocolate to sweet shops until the statute of limitations on his crimes ran out and France’s President Georges Pompidou pardoned him.

However, after he was found recovering stolen Jewish property, which he had claimed as his own, he was charged again with crimes against humanity in 1971. Following a tip he was being sheltered in a priory, the French Colonel Jean-Louis Recordon and his team put a series of wiretaps on Catholic communities and sympathisers. In 1989, he was found hiding in a monastery, dressed as a priest.

2. Erich Priebke

Erich Priebke was involved in the massacre of over 335 Italians in 1944. Escaping to Argentina, Priebke managed to live there for around 50 years, evading detection despite using his own name and even travelling with his German passport.

Bizarrely, Priebke agreed to an interview with a reporter for ABC News, where he refuted his crime. Unsurprisingly, after the interview was aired in 1994, Priebke was arrested by Argentinian officials and extradited to Italy.

3. Charles Taylor

The former Liberian president, Charles Taylor earned the position of one of the world’s worst war criminals following his role in the Sierra Leone Civil War, facing charges that included terror, rape and murder. After he was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he went into exile in Nigeria.

Managing to evade arrest for three years, Taylor was put on Interpol’s Most Wanted list and the United States Congress even passed a bill offering a two million dollar reward his capture. Eventually, in 2006 Nigeria announced plans to hand him over to Liberia. Officials discovered him, trying to cross the border in a Range Rover with Nigerian diplomatic plates, stashed with large amounts of cash and heroin.

4. Radovan Karadžić

A former Bosnian Serb politician, Radovan Karadžić was accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of committing war crimes, including genocide, during the Bosnian war. On the run from 1996 to 2008, he posed as a new age expert in alternative medicine, offering treatment for sexual problems and disorders.

Hiding in plain sight, he lectured in front of thousands of people and even launched his own website. Despite allegedly evading arrest in Austria, where he posed as a Croatian healer selling ointments, the police eventually caught up with him in Belgrade in 2008 where, having discovered the doctor’s real identity, he was arrested.

5. Ratko Mladić

Formerly a Bosnian Serb military leader, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged Ratko Mladić with a long list of offences, as well as holding him responsible for the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre: the largest mass murder in Europe after World War II. Mladić went into hiding and lived as a fugitive for ten years.

However, in 2009, videos of Mladić taken over the past decade were broadcast on Bosnian television. In 2011, Serbian police, the Security Information Agency and War Crimes Prosecutor's Office agents entered a small village where members of Mladić’s family lived. Mladić was discovered living in one of his family’s homes and was arrested, before being extradited to The Hague.

6. Saddam Hussein

Possibly the most famous of all war criminals and fugitives, Saddam Hussein was in hiding for eight months after the fall of Bagdad, putting him at the top of the US's Most Wanted Iraqis list. American forces caught up with him on 13th December 2003.

Hiding at a farm, Hussein was literally holed up, along with a personal supply of hot dogs, 7 Up and Bounty Bars. Following his arrest, pictures of the fugitive in his pants were published on the front pages.