News 29 Sep 14

Radovan Karadzic Trial Enters Final Phase

Prosecutors demanded a life sentence for Karadzic as closing arguments began in the war crimes trial of the former Bosnian Serb political leader at the Hague Tribunal.

Erna Mackic
BIRN
The Hague
Radovan Karadzic in court. Photo: Beta.

Closing arguments began at the UN-backed court in the Netherlands on Monday in the trial of Karazdic, who is accused of being responsible for some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.

At the beginning of his closing statement, prosecutor Alan Tieger called Karadzic a liar and a criminal with genocidal intent who was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population in Bosnia.

“Hundreds of witnesses and pieces of evidence confirmed the policy of ethnic cleansing, in which Karadzic was driving force,” Tieger told the court.

He described individual examples of suffering, talking about people who were shot by snipers in Sarajevo, executed in Srebrenica and killed in Bosnian Serb detention camps in Prijedor, saying these were examples of the joint criminal enterprise in which Karadzic was involved, which intended “to eliminate Bosniaks with the aim of creating a Serbian state”.

Karadzic is charged with masterminding genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and in seven Bosnian municipalities in 1992, the persecution of non-Serbs, terrorising the besieged population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

“Under his command and oversight, Karadzic’s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats,” the prosecution said on Friday.

It said it was demanding a life sentence because the scale and scope of the “criminal campaigns” led by Karadzic was “vast”.

But Karadzic’s legal adviser, Peter Robinson, told BIRN that the wartime Bosnian Serb president remained hopeful of a not-guilty verdict.

“What he expects, he’s optimistic, he says if this is a real court, he’ll be acquitted, however, he’s not sure this is a real court under his definition so he might not be that optimistic about the outcome,” Robinson said.

Karadzic, who worked as a psychiatrist and wrote several volumes of poetry before he went into politics in the 1980s, is keen to return to writing after the trial is over, Robinson added.

“He’s looking forward to having some literature-related activity instead of legal-related activity. He told me that the legal process sucked all the creativity out of him, he’s looking forward to doing creative writing,” he said.

After the closing arguments, the verdict is expected to be handed down in the summer of 2015.

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Background

Karadzic: War Criminal or Poet?

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.  

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

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.

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