Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic fails to be acquitted

Judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said prosecutors did not provide enough evidence to support one of the two genocide counts

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Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has failed in his bid at The Hague war crimes tribunal to be cleared of all charges against him.

He has been cleared, however, of one count out of two of genocide on the basis that prosecutors had failed to provide enough evidence.

Mr Karadzic is accused of ordering atrocities during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

He denies 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This was a bold attempt by Mr Karadzic to have all 11 charges against him dismissed, says the BBC's Anna Holligan in court in The Hague.

He is accused of being responsible for the deaths of more than 7,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, a campaign of shelling and sniping against civilians in Sarajevo, plus the taking hostage of UN staff.

Analysis

Between March and December 1992, forces loyal to Radovan Karadzic seized control of towns and villages and forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs from their home. Thousands of men were held for months in detention camps. Many were murdered.

Does this acquittal mean that this campaign - known as ethnic cleansing - did not, in fact, take place?

The court has ruled not that these things did not happen, but that they did not, on the available evidence, constitute genocide.

Mr Karadzic still faces a second genocide charge, relating to the murders of up to 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

And the crimes of 1992? They are still, despite Thursday's acquittal, in the indictment against Mr Karadzic. They are described, in counts 2 to 11, not as genocide now but as murder, extermination, torture, terror and forced deportation.

Mr Karadzic had applied for acquittal on these charges too. The judges rejected that application.

Judges rejected his arguments on Srebrenica, saying that the "genocidal intent" of the accused "may be inferred" from all the evidence.

They found that many of Mr Karadzic's claims that he did not know what was happening on the ground were contradicted by the evidence - phone calls and meetings to co-ordinate and exchange ideas.

But it was agreed there were insufficient grounds to prove beyond doubt that genocide was committed in any of the municipalities beyond Srebrenica.

The trial will now continue, with the defence due to begin giving evidence in October.

Delaying tactics?

The charges relate to several events, including Mr Karadzic's alleged role in the shelling of Sarajevo during the city's 44-month siege, in which some 12,000 civilians died.

He is also alleged of shelling towns as part of a campaign to drive Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats out of areas claimed by Bosnian Serb forces.

The 67-year-old, who has been defending himself, denies the charges and has claimed he did not know what was taking place on the ground.

Mr Karadzic was discovered living under a false name in 2008, after nearly 13 years on the run. His trial opened the following year, but has been hit by several delays since.

Prosecutors have expressed concern that he is trying the same tactics as former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Mr Milosevic, who spun his case out through delaying tactics, died in 2006 before a verdict was heard.

Separately, the Dutch government said earlier this week it would appeal against a ruling last year which held it responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men during the Srebrenica massacre.

A district court in The Hague had ruled that Dutch troops, who were working under the auspices of the UN, should not have handed the men over to Bosnian Serb forces. The move cleared the way for compensation claims by the families of the victims.

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