Thursday 19 January 2017

'Snipers killing children as they play is not heroic'

Eleanor Lorenze in The Hague

Published 25/03/2016 | 02:30

Radovan Karadzic with Ratko Mladic in 1995
Radovan Karadzic with Ratko Mladic in 1995
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic awaiting his verdict in the Hague yesterday
A Bosnian Muslim woman cries during a mass funeral for victims of the Srebrenica massacre in in Potocari, Bosnia on July 11, 2005
Radovan Karadzic pictured during his 13 years spent on the run. Photo: AP

Victims' families in the courtroom, some of then elderly, listened intently when the genocide at Srebrenica was discussed. One wiped away tears as the judge described men and boys being separated from their families.

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When Radovan Karadzic was ordered to stand for sentencing, he listened with eyes mostly downcast. After judges departed, he sat back heavily in his chair.

Victims' families embraced before quietly leaving the courtroom.

Outside, Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her entire family at Srebrenica, said she was enraged by the verdict, and no punishment could have been harsh enough. "He can live in a cushy prison while I have to live in Srebrenica, where his ideology is still in place," she said. "I have no sisters, no brothers, no husband."

Serge Brammertz, the court's chief prosecutor, said he hoped the ruling would make populist politicians in the region more reluctant to hail convicted war criminals as heroes.

"There is nothing heroic about raping persons, about sexual abuse in camps," he said. "There is nothing heroic about executing 7,000 prisoners which have been detained in impossible circumstances. There is nothing heroic to kill with snipers children who are playing."

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

Karadzic defended himself through his 497-day trial and, rejecting the charges against him, sought to portray himself as the Serbs' champion, blaming some of the sieges and shelling on Bosnian Muslims themselves. He said soldiers and civilians who committed crimes during the war acted individually.

Opponents of the UN tribunal 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.

Irish Independent

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