Former president of Republika Srpska Radovan Karadzic asked the Hague Tribunal, ICTY, to acquit him of all charges, claiming that prosecutors failed to prove he was guilty.
Karadzic and his lawyer Peter Robinson presented on Monday an oral request to the ICTY Trial Chamber to be freed of all charges contained in the indictment.
“My fingerprints are nowhere to be found in these crimes. Everywhere I interfered, it was for the sake of humanity and to ease the pain of civilians of any ethnicity,” emphasised Karadzic.
Karadzic is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats in much of Bosnia, terror against civilians in Sarajevo, and taking members of UN peace forces as hostages, in the period between 1992 and 1995.
He claims it has not been proven that the forces of Republika Srpska committed genocide in Srebrenica.
“Prosecution failed to prove my responsibility for the events in Srebrenica or that it was genocide... It’s up to the prosecution to prove who did the killing and what was the motive,” said Karadzic, claiming “there were killings for personal reasons, out of revenge.”
According to the indictment and earlier verdicts of the Tribunal, the Bosnian Serb army, under Karadzic’s supreme command, executed more than 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica in the days after it seized the enclave in eastern Bosnia on July 11, 1995.
Claiming that the prosecution failed to establish the exact number of victims, Karadzic said that the number cited in the indictment is part of a “Muslim propaganda”, which “the prosecution succumbed to” and “part of the game which makes people miserable and sets groundwork for future hostilities.”
“The prosecution failed to present evidence that I prepared, planned and ordered a genocide,” said the defendant and added that Bosniak women, children and elderly from Srebrenica were not deported, but evacuated with support from the UN after they themselves asked for it.
The defence asked that Karadzic be acquitted of charges of genocide against Bosniak and Croats in seven other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, based on the fact that neither Hague Tribunal, nor International Court of Justice in their verdict established that genocide was committed there.
According to Karadzic, the Hague prosecution failed to prove he committed a single incident in Sarajevo, adding that the city was not under siege of his army. Sarajevo was, in his opinion, “highly militarised” and the “army was mixed with civilians”.
He added that Serb soldiers only defended their homes and suburbs and that their leadership did not lay claim or intended to take over Bosniak territories in Sarajevo.
Karadzic also denied the existence of the joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanent and forceful removal of non-Serbs from larger parts of the Bosnian territory. Moving of population from war zones, in his words, was a legal obligation, with the guaranteed right to return.
He dismissed accusations of crimes committed in detention camps across Bosnia as unproven, claiming those were merely investigation centres which detained only “participants in armed rebellion”, while others, “arrested by error” were regularly released.
“Crimes were committed by individuals, and the prosecution failed to prove it was a part of the state system,” said the defendant.
The prosecutors will respond to Karadzic’s request for acquittal on Wednesday, while the Trial Chamber would make a decision on it at a later date.
To the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was a true sensation, and one to be exploited day after day.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.