Karadzic guilty of Bosnia genocide, jailed for 40 years
THE HAGUE – Reuters
REUTERS photoFormer Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been sentenced to 40 years in jail by U.N. judges who found him found guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, as well as on nine other war crimes charges.
Karadzic, 70, the most senior political figure to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, was found guilty of 10 of 11 war charges. He was acquitted on a second count of genocide in various towns in Bosnia during the 1990s.
The judges said Karadzic was criminally responsible for the siege of Sarajevo and had committed crimes against humanity in Bosnian towns.
According to judges, Karadzic intended to eliminate the Bosnian Muslim males in the town of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims died in Europe’s worst war crime since World War II.
Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said the three-year Sarajevo siege, during which the city was shelled and sniped at by besieging Bosnian Serb forces, could not have happened without Karadzic’s support.
His sentence will be reduced by slightly more than seven years for time already spent in detention. It will be served in an as yet undetermined state prison.
One of Karadzic’s legal advisers, Lawyer Peter Robinson, said he will file an appeal to the court’s decision.
Robinson said Karadzic was shocked to have been found guilty of orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
The appeal process could take several more years.
As the judges described the siege of Sarajevo, Karadzic looked pained and his face tightened into a grimace.
Victims’ families in the courtroom, some of them 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.
After that, Karadzic stared ahead vacantly. When he was ordered to stand for sentencing, he listened with eyes mostly downcast. After the sentence was read and judges departed, he sat back heavily in his chair.
After the hearing was closed, several victims’ families embraced before quietly leaving the courtroom.
Karadzic was arrested in 2008 after 11 years on the run, following a war in which 100,000 people were killed as rival armies carved Bosnia up along ethnic lines that largely survive today.
He headed the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and was supreme commander of its armed forces. He said in an interview ahead of the verdict that he had worked to uphold peace and deserved praise, not punishment.
“My permanent fight to preserve the peace, prevent the war and decrease the sufferings of everyone regardless of religion was an exemplary effort deserving respect rather than persecution,” he told news portal Balkan Insight.
Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz welcomed the guilty verdict against Karadzic, saying “justice has been done.”
“Thousands came here to tell their stories and courageously confront their tormentors. Today with this conviction that trust has been honored,” Brammertz said in a statement.