Before calling his first witness at his war crimes trial, the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, told the judges he should have been rewarded instead of indicted for his actions during the Bosnian war.
|Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska / Photo by Beta/AP|
At the start of the presentation of his defence, Karadzic went on to tell the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, that the Bosnian Serb army did not shell the Markale market in Sarajevo, and that he had no knowledge at the time that Bosniaks were being killed in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.
“Sarajevo is my city and this whole story that we bombed Sarajevo for no reason is unfounded… Each shell that fell on Sarajevo hurt me as well”, said Karadzic adding there were over 2,000 legitimate military targets in the city.
Karadzic explained that his role during the Bosnian war was to “humanize the conflict”.
“Instead of being indicted for crimes in our civil war, I should have been rewarded for doing everything I could to make sure it did not come to war. I have minimized the sufferings of civilians, made sure that the number of casualties was three or four times smaller, and signed many treaties to stop the war,” said Karadzic.
After Karadzic finishes his opening statement, the first witness for the defence will be called, the Russian general Andrei Demurenko. Demurenko will testify that – even if a grenade did explode in the Markale market in Sarajevo on August 28, 1995 and killed over 40 people – it could not have come from the Bosnian Serb positions.
Karadzic’s trial started in October 2009. The prosecution took two years to present its evidence and about 200 witnesses were called.
Taking into consideration the fact that the prosecution spent about 300 working hours to present its case, the ICTY allocated the same amount of time for Karadzic’s evidence. Karadzic is appealing this decision.
Karadzic is charged, as the former President of Republika Srpska and the former supreme commander of its armed forces, with the genocide in Srebrenica, the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats across Bosnia, taking international soldiers as hostages, and with terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a shelling and sniping campaign.
He has announced plans to call 600 witnesses in his defence, and said that he may testify as the final witness.
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.