News 05 Dec 16

Radovan Karadzic Files Appeal Against Conviction

Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic has filed an appeal challenging the Hague Tribunal’s verdict sentencing him to 40 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Radovan Karadzic. Photo: ICTY.

Radovan Karadzic announced on Monday that he has filed an appeal to the UN’s Mechanism for International Tribunals against his conviction by the Hague-based war crimes court in March this year.

The 238-page appeal “details 48 substantive and procedural errors” that led to an incorrect verdict, according to a statement issued by Karadzic’s lawyer Peter Robinson.

“Unless corrected, flawed trials and unjust judgments like mine will only accelerate the flight of countries such as South Africa and Russia from an international legal system that is politicised and based on double standards,” Karadzic said in the statement.

“It will also ruin the chance for international justice to succeed in the long term by establishing legal precedents based on short-term political expediencies,” the former Bosnian Serb political leader added.

Karadzic was found guilty of genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

According to the verdict, the crimes were committed as part of four joint criminal enterprises in which Karadzic was a protagonist.

Karadzic rejected the basis of the genocide judgment, saying that “never has a conviction for such a serious crime rested on such a shaky foundation”.

He also said that his convicted for terrorising the population of Sarajevo during the Bosnian Serb siege of the city from 1992-95 “disregarded his many orders aimed at preventing fire against civilians, misapplied principles of ‘distinction’ and ‘proportionality’ by failing to assess the shelling from the perspective of a military commander, and ignored the United Nations’ own expert report on the Markale market shelling”.

Karadzic has also “submitted 26 separate grounds challenging the fairness of the trial”, according to the statement.

He accused the prosecution of “serial violations of its duty to disclose exculpatory evidence”, and the tribunal of treating him unfairly compared to the prosecution.

He accused the tribunal of “shifting the burden of proof to him to prove his innocence by taking of judicial notice of 2,379 adjudicated facts from other trials and admitting written testimony of 148 prosecution witnesses”.

He also said that the UN court refused to allow him to represent himself when testifying, to compel Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic to answer questions, and “to subpoena witnesses and produce written evidence in the same manner that the chamber had granted to the prosecution”.

The prosecution has also said it will appeal, asking for Karadzic to be found guilty of genocide in seven other Bosnian municipalities in 1992, and for his sentence to be raised to life imprisonment.

The appeals chamber of the Mechanism for International Tribunals, which is taking over the remaining work of the Hague Tribunal as it shuts down, will rule on the appeals.

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