Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40-year imprisonment for Srebrenica genocide, war crimes

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and nine other war crimes charges, U.N. judges said, sentencing him to 40 years in prison.

Karadzic (70), the most senior political figure to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was found guilty of 10 out of 11 charges. He was acquitted of a second count of genocide in Bosnian towns.

The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal found Karadzic guilty of orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war that left 1,00,000 people dead. The 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, Europe's worst since World War Two, claimed the lives of 8,000 Muslims.

'Sarajevo siege had his support'

Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said the three-year Sarajevo siege, during which the city of Serbs, Muslims and Croats was shelled and sniped at by besieging Bosnian Serb forces, could not have happened without Karadzic's support.

Among the main charges is that Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 after 11 years on the run, controlled Serb forces that carried out the Srebrenica killings after overrunning the supposed U.N.-designated "safe area."

"I deserve respect, not persecution"

Karadzic, who once headed the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and was Supreme Commander of its armed forces, said in an interview ahead of the verdict that he had worked to uphold peace and deserved praise, not punishment.

“My permanent fight to preserve the peace, prevent the war and decrease the sufferings of everyone regardless of religion was an exemplary effort deserving respect rather than persecution,” he told news portal Balkan Insight.

Appeals, which could take several more years, are expected regardless of the verdict.

Serbian PM backs Bosnian Serbs

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said he would stand by the Serbs of Bosnia.

“We will stand by our people and we will protect their existence and their right to have their own state,” he said.

The only one more senior official to face justice before the ICTY was late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in custody a decade ago before a verdict was reached.

Ratko Mladic, the General who commanded Bosnian Serb forces, was the last suspect to be detained over the Srebrenica slaughter and is also in a U.N. cell awaiting judgment.

Munira Subasic, whose son was among the victims of Srebrenica, said the “verdict is very important to show new generations, especially those in Serbia who have been poisoned with hatred already, what really happened in Bosnia."

The carnage

The Srebrenica massacre and the years-long Serb siege of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo were events that turned world opinion against the Serbs and prompted NATO air strikes that helped bring the war to an end.

Karadzic defended himself through his 497-day trial and called 248 witnesses, poring over many of the millions of pages of evidence with the help of a court-appointed legal adviser.

"Plotted to purge non-Serb population"

Prosecutors say he conspired to purge Bosnia of its non-Serb population.

Rejecting the charges, Karadzic sought to portray himself as the Serbs' champion, blaming some of the sieges and shelling on Bosnian Muslims themselves. He has said soldiers and civilians who committed crimes during the war acted individually.

Judgments remain divisive

Opponents of the ICTY say its prosecutors have disproportionately targeted Serbs as 94 of 161 suspects charged were from the Serbian side, while 29 were Croat and nine Bosnian Muslim.

Prosecutors have been criticised for not bringing charges against two other leaders of that era who have since died -- Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.

“If you had got prosecutions of those three [including Milosevic] then you'd get a really good picture of the way the violence was produced but we're not getting it,” said Eric Gordy, an expert on the court at University College London.

The ICTY, set up in 1991 at the outset of federal Yugoslavia's violent break-up, was meant to deter future war crimes and promote reconciliation but its judgments remain divisive.

Many Serbs see him as innocent

Many Serbs, both in Bosnia and Serbia, regard the court as a pro-Western instrument, say Karadzic is innocent and believe his conviction is an injustice for all Serbs.

Their belief is strengthened by the fact that the sentencing coincides with the anniversary of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia that led to independence for the ethnic Albania-dominated province of Kosovo.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 5:21:32 PM |

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