UNITED NATIONS: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of 10 charges, including genocide, by a United Nations tribunal on Thursday in connection with the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica.
Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is hearing cases of alleged atrocities and other crimes from Bosnia’s meltdown.
More than 100,000 people died in the three-sided Bosnian conflict among Bosnian Serbs, ethnic Croats and Muslims.
The judgment “placed widespread” blame on Karadzic for directing murders, purges and other abuses against civilians, including the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which Serb gunners and snipers fired nearly daily from surrounding ridges, a press statement said.
Karadzic — both a Bosnian Serb politician and commander of military forces — claimed that he was seeking only to protect ethnic Serbs during the war. A legal adviser to Karadzic said he would file an appeal against the ruling.
The proceedings by the UN-backed tribunal at The Hague have been closely watched as a potentially significant step in applying international law to investigations of alleged war crimes and other abuses against civilians.
Karadzic, who was indicted in 1995 but was on the run until his capture in 2008, is the most senior Bosnian Serb figure to face prosecution at the court, which has spent more than two decades investigating the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
AFP adds: UN war crimes judges said Karadzic bore criminal responsibility for murder and persecution during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict.
Judge O-Gon Kwon pronounced Karadzic guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and nine other charges of murder, persecution and hostage-taking.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed it as a “historic day” for justice but relatives of the victims voiced disappointment at the sentence.
In what was a blow to thousands of victims, the court said it did not have enough evidence to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that genocide had been committed in seven Bosnian towns and villages over two decades ago.
After former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died while on trial in 2006, the last high-ranking official of the top leadership to face judgment will be notorious Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, “The Butcher of Bosnia” whose verdict is due next year.
The 70-year-old listened stony-faced as Kwon read out the verdict.
Karadzic “was at the apex of political, governmental and military structures” of the Bosnian Serb leadership and “at the forefront of developing and promoting its ideologies,” Kwon said.
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves by Bosnian Serb forces who brushed aside UN peacekeepers in the supposedly “safe area” of Srebrenica.
The massacre was the worst bloodshed on European soil since World War II.
Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2016