Mass-murder allegations are Muslim myths, says Karadzic
Former Bosnian Serb leader claims death tolls were wildly exaggerated
RADOVAN Karadzic set out a defence strategy of denial yesterday by telling judges that the two atrocities for which he faces charges of genocide were in fact myths concocted by Muslims.
In the eyes of the former Bosnian Serb leader the 44-month siege of Sarajevo -- in which 10,000 people died -- was staged, while the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslims was exaggerated, with bodies brought in to swell the numbers of the dead.
Dr Karadzic (64) faces 11 charges of war crimes from the conflict of 1992-95, including two of genocide at Sarajevo and Srebrenica. He won a minor victory at his trial in The Hague when the judges agreed to an indefinite adjournment rather than starting the prosecution case today, allowing Dr Karadzic more time to prepare.
"They shelled their own people and killed their own people with snipers," he said of the Sarajevo siege in the second day of his opening remarks.
UN representatives knew about the tactic of "planting of bodies throughout Sarajevo with a view to accusing the Serb side for that," he said. Showing the court a photograph of a shrine at Srebrenica engraved with the figure of 8,372 victims, he said that Muslim corpses had been brought from 60 miles (100 kilometres) away to augment the numbers. "What they created there is a place of worship. It is a myth again," he said. "We know graves are being exhumed in Bosnia so that somebody could be buried in Srebrenica."
During a rambling testimony he said that no more than 2,000 or 3,000 Bosnian Muslims could have been killed. "Of course the death of a single person is significant, but why exaggerate?"
Dr Karadzic said that, far from being the author of ethnic cleansing that history had painted him as, he sought a multi-ethnic state and the Muslims were the main aggressors.
The UN court has a high threshold for proving genocide and only one general, Radislav Krstic, has been convicted of the crime -- for the killings at Srebrenica in 1995.
During seven hours stretched over two days, Karadzic gave a uniquely Serb view of events. His account stood in glaring contrast to news reports and television footage at the time and also contradicted the verdicts against Bosnian Serb leaders and military commanders who are already serving sentences for war crimes.
Dr Karadzic boasted that by the end of his trial he would prove those men innocent.
"I am not afraid of these proceedings. It is with great enthusiasm that I am preparing for these proceedings," he said.
He spent little time talking about the most serious charge against him, the 1995 slaughter of Muslim men and boys in the UN-declared safe zone of Srebrenica.
Dr Karadzic challenged the figure of 8,000 dead, saying no more than 3,000 could have been killed. He claimed Muslim corpses had been brought from miles away to fabricate figures.
Discussing the days before the war, Karadzic depicted Bosnia's Serbs as victims of "state-sponsored terrorism" by Muslim authorities who rushed toward independence from Yugoslavia and who sought to draw international forces into the conflict. (©The Times, London)