Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic faces war crimes verdict

UN judges to announce verdict concerning former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who has been accused of committing 11 crimes during Bosnian war including two genocides, five crimes against humanity

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, seen at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in the Hague, on July 11 2013.

Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, known as the "Butcher of Bosnia," is accused of 11 crimes that was listed in a 69-page indictment between the years 1992-95 in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

He has been charged with two counts of genocide, four counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity. One of the charges Karadzic faces is “spreading terror” by sniping and shelling to kill civilians.

UN judges will pronounce their verdict on Thursday in Karadzic's trial over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two. He is charged with:

  • Genocide: Between March 31 and December 1992, Karadzic allegedly with others "planned, instigated, ordered and/or aided and abetted genocide" of Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croats to permanently remove them from territory claimed by the Bosnian Serbs across various municipalities.
  • Genocide: In July 1995, he began to implement a plan with others "to eliminate the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by killing the men and boys and forcibly removing the women, young children." Almost 8,372 men and boys were killed.
  • Persecution: Karadzic allegedly instigated, aided and abetted the persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in 19 towns and villages by allowing forcible deportations, harassment, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence. The persecution allegedly included forced labour in detention camps and the use of human shields by Serb and Bosnian Serb forces.
  • Extermination: Prosecutors say Karadzic knew "extermination" was "a possible consequence" of the campaign to get rid of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats "and willingly took that risk." This included the sniping and shelling during the 44-month siege of Sarajevo and the deaths in Srebrenica.
  • Murder as a crime against humanity: Karadzic was allegedly behind a joint criminal enterprise "to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory" through acts of murder including in Sarajevo where some 10,000 people were killed, Srebrenica and other municipalities.
  • Murder as a war crime: Karadzic stands accused of aiding "organised and opportunistic killings" in direct violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention governing the rules of war.
  • Deportation: Karadzic allegedly knew that between March 1992 and November 1995, Serb forces and Bosnian Serbs "forcibly displaced Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from areas within the municipalities and within Srebrenica in which they were lawfully present."
  • Inhuman Acts: Karadzic along with others targeted Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats through measures such as "arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence, killing, and destruction of houses and cultural monuments" which forced them to "flee in fear" from their homes.
  • Terror: Karadzic stands accused, from April 1992 to November 1995, of using the Sarajevo Forces to "spread terror" with others in the city through a military strategy of "sniping and shelling to kill, maim, wound and terrorise the civilian inhabitants."
  • Unlawful Attacks: The Sarajevo siege included indiscriminate and excessive attacks "which were disproportionate in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated."
  • Taking of hostages: Between 26 May 1995 and 19 June 1995, Bosnian Serb Forces detained over 200 UN peacekeepers and military observers in various towns, including Pale, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Gorade, with Karadzic accused of abetting the kidnappings to force NATO not to carry out air strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets.

Karadzic is the highest-ranking person to face the UN tribunal in the Hague over a war two decades ago in which at least 100,000 people died as rival armies carved up Bosnia along ethnic lines that largely survive today.

Among the main charges is that Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 after 11 years on the run, controlled Serb forces that massacred 8,372 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 after overrunning the UN-designated "safe area."

The 70-year-old former psychiatrist, still in robust health, could be imprisoned for life for these and nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. If he is convicted, the sentence will be pronounced at a later date.

The only other more senior official to face justice before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was the 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 UN cell awaiting judgment.

"I expect justice to win tomorrow and that he (Karadzic) will be sentenced for the killings," said Munira Subasic, whose son was among the victims of Srebrenica.

Former Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic (right) and his general Ratko Mladic talk on the central Bosnian Mount Vlasic in April 1995. (Reuters Archive)

"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," she said.

The Srebrenica massacre and the years-long Serb siege of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo, for which Karadzic is also charged, were events that turned world opinion against the Serbs and prompted NATO air strikes that brought the war to an end.

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

A woman walks past a genocide memorial near Srebrenica. (Reuters Archive)


TRTWorld and agencies