Law Squirrel

UN Court Finds Karadzic Guilty of Genocide

KaradzicToday, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appeared before a UN court for sentencing in relation to charges of crimes against humanity. The court has now announced that it has found him guilty of genocide as a result of the role he played in the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Karadzic has been convicted of genocide along with nine other, related charges. The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has handed him a sentence of 40 years in prison.

The Srebrenica Massacre took place towards the end of the Bosnian conflict in July 1995. In the town of Srebrenica and the surrounding area, over 8,000 Muslims – primarily men and male children – were deliberately killed by Bosnian Serb forces. This was accompanied by the forced transfer of women, children, and elderly individuals from the area. International courts recognised these events as a case of Genocide in 2004, and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described it as the worst crime to be committed anywhere in Europe since the second world war. As the Bosnian Serb leader, Karadzic played a significant role in guiding these events, and has now been deemed criminally responsible for the genocide that took place.

The war in Bosnia lasted from 1992 to 1995, with around 100,000 casualties. Many civilians, as well as military personnel, were left dead as a result of the conflict. Besides his role in the Srebrenica Genocidehe war crimes tribunal has found Karadzic guilty of organising a number of atrocities and crimes against humanity over the course of the conflict and of deliberately targeting civilian populations.

In particular, the court pointed to the siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. This lasted for 44 months, and judge O-Gon Kwon has ruled that Karadzic was behind war crimes committed while laying siege to the city. Karadzic, the court ruled, furthered his own political ends by deliberately targeting civilians in the city through snipers and the use of artillery.

Karadzic’s role in the Bosnian Serb campaign and related war crimes was, the tribunal said, “instrumental.”

The trial began in 2009, with Karadzic refusing to address the court but with a plea of not guilty being entered on his behalf. Over the course of his trial, Karadzic conducted his own defence and disputed the charges against him. He maintained that he was a “friend to Muslims” and “man of peace” who had sought to moderate and prevent the worst aspects of the conflict. The trial went on for a total of 497 days of court proceedings, including statements from 586 witnesses and 115,000 pages of documents being presented as evidence. The trial ended in October 2014.

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