Former President of the Bosnian Serbian Republic Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison. According to the verdict of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sitting in the Hague, he was found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.
During sentencing, presiding judge O-gon Kwon acquitted Karadzic of charges in one of two episodes of genocide, saying that not enough evidence. He noted that the numerous crimes of the Bosnian Serbs against their Muslim and Croatian compatriots cannot be considered a genocide.
The remaining counts of the charge remained unchanged. In particular, the judge said that the shelling of Sarajevo during the three years of siege could not have happened without the knowledge of the defendant. He also said that Karadzic had ordered the capture of Srebrenica and has agreed to the killing of all the captured Muslim males.
The charges relate to the period of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. According to the court, the crimes were committed in 1992-1996, when Karadzic was the head of the Republika Srpska and was the Supreme commander of its armed forces.
The prosecution, in particular, considers Karadzic responsible for the murder of 8 thousand Moslems in Srebrenica and the death of over 5 thousand civilians during the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. In addition, the Bosnian Serb leader accused of taking hostages from among the UN peacekeepers used as human shield to protect against bombing by NATO aircraft.
Karadzic refused to plead guilty. According to him, the prosecution has no evidence linking him to crimes incriminated to it. Before the sentencing he said in an interview with the international project Balkan Transitional Justice, which expects a not-guilty verdict.
In his defense, the defendant said that as President he has made every effort to “alleviate human suffering regardless of their religious affiliation” in the fighting. He acknowledged that the massacre in Srebrenica took place, but believes that the responsibility for this crime are some uncontrolled groups.
Along with Karadzic for genocide against Bosnian Serbs and Croats accused the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic. In July 1996, he was issued an international warrant for their arrest. Karadzic was arrested by Serbian authorities in July 2008 and Mladic in may 2011. From the moment of arrest both defendants held in pretrial detention.
Judicial session on the case of Karadzic, during which testimonies were heard from 586 witnesses, lasted for almost 500 days. The prosecution demanded to sentence him to life imprisonment.
Sentencing Ratko Mladic is expected in November 2017. He and Karadzic, accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. Mladic refused to answer the court’s questions by stating that he did not consider himself guilty, was sent on behalf of the Trial chamber.