Feature 05 Jan 16

Karadzic Verdict Nears as Hague Tribunal Enters 2016

The Hague Tribunal will deliver its verdict in the landmark trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic this year but faces problems deciding how to handle the defiant Serbian nationalist Vojislav Seselj.

Denis Dzidic BIRN Sarajevo
Radovan Karadzic in court in The Hague. Photo: BETA.

The most highly-anticipated verdict of the year, in the case against Karadzic for genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and other municipalities in 1992, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout the country, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage, is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.

Karadzic’s trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague began in 2009. He had been on the run for more than a decade after the Bosnian war ended.

Nearly 600 witnesses gave testimony, and the judges have to consider over 11,000 exhibits and tens of thousands of pages of written evidence in a trial which the presiding judge described as “unprecedented” in its scale.

Karadzic’s verdict is highly anticipated in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with many people particularly interested in finding out whether the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs will be found guilty of genocide in 1992 in the municipalities of Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik.

This charge was dismissed by judges in 2012 but reinstated the year afterwards, with the court saying that evidence produced by the prosecution “could indicate that Karadzic possessed genocidal intent”.

Prosecutors have demanded a life sentence. But in Karadzic’s final statement before the court in October 2014, he admitted that crimes were committed during the 1992-95 war but insisted that he never ordered them.

“I am of a clear conscience and a heavy heart, because the war wasn’t what I wanted,” he said.

The prosecution however argued that he was responsible for masterminding genocide, forced expulsions and persecution on a massive scale, with the aim of destroying the entire Bosniak community.

“When thousands are killed and thousands are traumatised and detained, most of their homes and places of prayer are destroyed and the rest are displaced across the world, one can clearly define the intention to destroy the community from those acts,” said prosecutor Alan Tieger.

Victims’ associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina fear that whatever the verdict, it will become politicised.

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