Genocide? I should be rewarded for good works, says Karadzic

Oct 16, 2012

The former Bosnian Serb leader denies charges of genocide and war crimes. What is his defence?

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FORMER Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has opened his defence at his war crimes trial at The Hague with a lengthy statement in which he said that he should be "rewarded for all the good things I have done".

Karadzic, 67, was arrested in 2008 on a bus in Belgrade after being on the run for 13 years. His trial started in October 2009, with the prosecution taking two years to put its case.

Opening his defence this morning, Karadzic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: "I'm a mild and tolerant man with a great capacity for understanding others. Instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I have done.
"I did everything in my human power to avoid the war. I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians."

Karadzic claimed that the number of victims of the war was three to four times less than the numbers reported in public. "The only crime I should be put on trial for is political stupidity and excessive trust in the Muslims," he said.

Karadzic is charged with one count of genocide (the Srebrenica massacre) and nine of crimes against humanity and violating the laws or customs of war, according to the BBC. Specifically, Karadzic is accused of:

  • Ordering the massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995
  • Ordering the siege of Sarajevo from 1992-95, in which more than 12,000 civilians died;
  • Taking 284 UN peacekeepers hostage and using them as a human shield between May and June 1995.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Karadzic's legal adviser Peter Robinson says his client will claim that at Srebrenica "no policy was being implemented" and that, as supreme commander of Bosnian Serb forces, he "did not know prisoners would be executed".

Robinson says Karadzic will not deny that people were killed in Srebrenica, but he will "challenge the scale of the massacre".

The prosecution has taken two years to make its case (from April 2010 to May 2012). Karadzic has been given 300 hours to put his defence and has said he will call 300 witnesses.

The tribunal can impose life imprisonment – the same sentence faced by Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Serbia, who in 2006 died of a heart attack at The Hague while his trial was still ongoing.

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