Monday 5 December 2016

Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment

Published 24/03/2016 | 14:47

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)
Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen, Pool via AP)
Radovan Karadzic listens to his sentence at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, The Netherlands (ICTY via AP)

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been convicted of genocide and nine other charges, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

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The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal found Karadzic guilty of orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war that left 100,000 people dead.

The verdicts were delivered at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.

Earlier, the United Nations war crimes tribunal said that former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is criminally responsible for murder, attacking civilians and terror for overseeing the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the country's war.

However, it said Karadzic was not held responsible for genocide in a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces in the 1992-95 conflict that left 100,000 dead.

Karadzic also faces a second charge of genocide - the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal's most serious crime - linked to the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica enclave. Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon has not yet read the conclusions linked to that massacre.

Karadzic faces a total of 11 charges and could face a maximum life sentence.

Prosecutors hold Karadzic responsible as a political leader and commander in chief of Serb forces in Bosnia, who are accused of the worst atrocities of the war. The 70-year-old Karadzic insists he is innocent and says his wartime actions were intended to protect Serbs.

The trial is hugely significant for the UN tribunal and the development of international law. Karadzic is the most senior Bosnian Serb leader to face prosecution at the court housed in a former insurance company headquarters in The Hague.

If judges convict Karadzic, the case will strengthen international jurisprudence on the criminal responsibility of political leaders for atrocities committed by forces under their control.

Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, accused of fomenting deadly conflicts across the Balkans as Yugoslavia crumbled in the 1990s, died in his cell in The Hague in 2006 before judges could deliver verdicts in his trial.

Karadzic's trial is one of the final acts at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. The court, set up in 1993, indicted 161 suspects. Of them, 80 were convicted and sentenced, 18 acquitted, 13 sent back to local courts and 36 had the indictments withdrawn or died.

Apart from Karadzic, three suspects remain on trial, including his military chief General Ratko Mladic and Serb ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj. Eight cases are being appealed and two defendants are to face retrials. The judgment in Seselj's case is scheduled for next Thursday.

Karadzic was indicted along with Mladic in 1995 but evaded arrest until he was captured in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2008. At the time, he was posing as a New Age healer, Dr Dragan Dabic, and was disguised by a thick beard and shaggy hair.

More than 20 years after the guns fell silent in Bosnia, Karadzic is still considered a hero in Serb-controlled parts of the divided country.

Last weekend, current Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik opened a student dormitory named after Karadzic and had Karadzic's daughter and wife unveil the plaque.

Speaking at the opening, Dodik called the trial "humiliating" and said those who fail to understand why Karadzic is hailed this way are "shallow-minded." His words were followed by resounding applause.

Press Association

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