Radovan Karadzic denies Bosnia war crimes


Radovan Karadzic: "I should have been rewarded for all the good things I've done"

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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has said he should be rewarded for "reducing suffering", not accused of carrying out war crimes.

Beginning his defence at his trial in The Hague, he said he was a "tolerant man" who had sought peace in Bosnia.

Mr Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after almost 13 years on the run.

He faces 10 charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s, including the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo.

More than 7,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in the worst single atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.

During the 44-month siege of Sarajevo more than 12,000 civilians died.

Mr Karadzic, 67, went on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in October 2009.

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He appears utterly without self-doubt - as, indeed, he was two decades ago”

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'Truth will grow stronger'

He began his lengthy personal statement by saying he had done "everything within human power to avoid the war and to reduce the human suffering".

Speaking calmly, Mr Karadzic said he was a "mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others".

He had stopped the Bosnian Serb army many times when it had been close to victory, he said, had sought peace agreements, applied humanitarian measures and honoured international law.

He insisted that there had been no history of conflict between ethnic groups.

"Neither I, nor anyone else that I know, thought that there would be a genocide against those who were not Serbs," he said.

He criticised media coverage of the war as biased and disputed the official number of victims of the war, saying the true figure was three to four times less. More than 100,000 people were killed, according to official figures.

"As time passes this truth will be stronger and stronger, and the accusations and the propaganda, the lies and hatred, will get weaker and weaker," he said.

Market atrocities

Charges against Karadzic

  • Ordered or planned genocide of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats to permanently remove them from territories of Bosnia-Hercegovina
  • Persecuted Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats and responsible for "acts of extermination and murder"
  • Masterminded the massacre of more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995
  • Responsible for siege of Sarajevo in 1992-95, in which 12,000 civilians died
  • Took UN peacekeepers and military observers hostage

One of the accusations faced by the former Bosnian Serb leader is that he adopted a military strategy of using snipers and shell attacks on the civilian population of Sarajevo.

Mr Karadzic said that every shell that had fallen on Sarajevo "hurt me personally", but he complained that an attack on a street market in February 1994 had been a "shameless orchestration".

While some people had clearly been killed, the former Bosnian Serb leader said "we also saw android mannequins being thrown onto trucks, creating this show for the world".

The blast left 68 people dead and eyewitnesses described seeing people being torn apart by the explosion.

Mr Karadzic said an investigation - conducted by Col Andrey Demurenko, the Russian chief of staff of the UN peacekeeping force - into a second attack on the same market in 1995 had concluded that Serbs "would not have fired the shells in that incident".

Having called the colonel as his first witness, Mr Karadzic said the findings of his report had been "rejected as a source of information" as they went "in an unwanted direction".

sniper alley

The 28 August attack left 34 people dead and many more wounded and Col Demurenko suggested that it was almost impossible that a mortar round could have been used to target a small market, particularly a market that had already been hit.

"The chance that a mortar shell would hit such a small single street... is one in a million. It's virtually impossible," Col Demurenko told the court, insisting that no such mortar fire had happened.

The two market attacks in 1994 and 1995 were among the bloodiest episodes of the Sarajevo siege. An earlier Hague war crimes trial found that the second incident was caused by a 120mm mortar.

The session was adjourned after Col Demurenko's testimony.

The BBC's Anna Holligan, at The Hague, says many survivors and relatives of the war's victims have travelled from Bosnia to see the trial of the man they hold most responsible for their suffering deliver his statement.

Each of Mr Karadzic's statements were met with cries of dismay, disgust and disbelief from the public gallery, says our correspondent.

In June, Mr Karadzic had one charge of genocide - related to the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs from towns and villages in Bosnia - dismissed. But he failed in his attempt to have the other charges against him dropped.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is also on trial at The Hague.

War in the former Yugoslavia 1991 - 1999

The former Yugoslavia was a Socialist state created after German occupation in World War II and a bitter civil war. A federation of six republics, it brought together Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Albanians, Slovenes and others under a comparatively relaxed communist regime. Tensions between these groups were successfully suppressed under the leadership of President Tito.
After Tito's death in 1980, tensions re-emerged. Calls for more autonomy within Yugoslavia by nationalist groups led in 1991 to declarations of independence in Croatia and Slovenia. The Serb-dominated Yugoslav army lashed out, first in Slovenia and then in Croatia. Thousands were killed in the latter conflict which was paused in 1992 under a UN-monitored ceasefire.
Bosnia, with a complex mix of Serbs, Muslims and Croats, was next to try for independence. Bosnia's Serbs, backed by Serbs elsewhere in Yugoslavia, resisted. Under leader Radovan Karadzic, they threatened bloodshed if Bosnia's Muslims and Croats - who outnumbered Serbs - broke away. Despite European blessing for the move in a 1992 referendum, war came fast.
Yugoslav army units, withdrawn from Croatia and renamed the Bosnian Serb Army, carved out a huge swathe of Serb-dominated territory. Over a million Bosnian Muslims and Croats were driven from their homes in ethnic cleansing. Serbs suffered too. The capital Sarajevo was besieged and shelled. UN peacekeepers, brought in to quell the fighting, were seen as ineffective.
International peace efforts to stop the war failed, the UN was humiliated and over 100,000 died. The war ended in 1995 after NATO bombed the Bosnian Serbs and Muslim and Croat armies made gains on the ground. A US-brokered peace divided Bosnia into two self-governing entities, a Bosnian Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation lightly bound by a central government.
In August 1995 the Croatian army stormed areas in Croatia under Serb control prompting thousands to flee. Soon Croatia and Bosnia were fully independent. Slovenia and Macedonia had already gone. Montenegro left later. In 1999 Kosovo's ethnic Albanians fought Serbs in another brutal war to gain independence. Serbia ended the conflict beaten, battered and alone.
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  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Its politically motivated as Religion is POLITICS.
    Brothers and Sisters killing one another makes no sense...
    Religion is motivated by people who want power and it stems from double speak politicians...The man is no God,he is a GENOCIDAL murdering MANIAC,end of...

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    181.Trout Mask Replica
    So, you tell me to ignore a poll of one of the countries with the highest muslim % population in the world
    So, give me another poll to use as a reference where the muslim % is very high and they overwhelmingly condemned the 9/11 bombings or 7/7. I'll be happy to be proven wrong
    Some of the leaders that did condemn the attacks even attacked the US as part of their statement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.


    "How many people have died in Iraq?"

    I know. I mean thank god we went in when we did and stopped Saddam murdering his own people left right and centre. I mean he dropped chemical weapons on his own people but some out there still think Iraq was this lovely, peaceful country before we went in.

    The mind boggles at some people's stupidity

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    servussupraantica it is an insult to anyone's intelligence to suggest that Bosnian Muslims wanted to implement sharia. For them being Muslim was a cultural thing and not a way of life. Your lack of knowledge of facts is astounding

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Oh wow, and Izetbegovic was much better than Karadzic. Please! I would be interested in what would you say if the Turks in Germany wanted to implement the sharia law over there? They would dissapear within a second. And both Karadzic and Izetbegovic are little children in comparison to the plutonium and uranium spreading leaders from the western hemisphere. How many people have died in Iraq?

  • Comment number 208.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    197. Druze Marko
    Mate if u read the paper you would know Croat Gen Gotovita is in prison for his crime against humanity from operation Thunder Storm
    Serbs are responsible for 80% of the atrocities & they started the war, and cleverly tried to keep the west away from their atrocities through political lobbying, until the world realised the horrors committed during their systematic ethnic cleansing

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    Lots of countries sending one man his dog after the US has threatened them does not a coalition make.

  • Comment number 205.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Swing Lowe your post shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. There was no superiors race, an equally terrible racist dictator in Croatia was partially responsible for the war and for what happened in Bosnia, and Karadzic is not a patriarch of the church so he did not bless anything, he was a soldier. I resent false claims on all sides and your post was full of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Human society has not moved on since the time of the Nazis, Soviets or even the days of the slave trade. Humans will exploit any group of people they deem inferior and will torture and terrorise them with little regard for consequence. I refer to the 6 soldiers arrested for torture and murder in Afghanistan, innocent lives are still being eaten away by the evil western big bad wolf.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    " Blumphie
    So Ireland being united is some sort of religious goal, is it?"

    No, but the denial of civil rights of the catholic community in NI by the protestant majority was of a religious motivation. That problem/cause was behind the IRA's preferred solution: a united Ireland (in which they could then presumably turn the tables).

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    If you think that 'religions have caused most wars', try looking at the 20th century. More died in world wars & mass persecutions than in the rest of history put together, apparently. None was a 'religious war': WW1 & 2, same religion. Stalin & Mao's purges, man-made famines, Pol Pot etc - all aimed at eliminating religion, eventually. So the idea of 'no religion = peaceful world' seems dubious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    @Druze Marko. No, Serbia never invaded Bosnia. It only sent its interior ministry troops to film themselves murdering boys in Srebrenica. It transferred all Bosnian Serb officers to the Bosnian Serb Army (I know several) and continued paying their salaries out of its budget. It organised the transport of its citizens- volunteers to places like Zvornik, where massacres were carried out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    198. Blumphie

    195 Name Number 6

    So Ireland being united is some sort of religious goal, is it?
    Yes in a way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    195 Name Number 6

    So Ireland being united is some sort of religious goal, is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Where are the Croatians? the Albanisnas, the Bosnians? and ultimately the Dutch who were responsible to protect Sebrenica. Also let's put things right: Serbia never invaded any country.

  • Comment number 196.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    175. Harpz
    Call it any name you want, but it all comes down to prejudiced hatred! In Ireland it is just a power-struggle. IT IS NOT RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED. Religion plays no part.
    So the 'Troubles' in the north of Ireland that grew out of the Catholic civil rights movement which was a protest against discrimination by the Protestant majority had nothing to do with religion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    I do wish people would refrain from using the phrase "ethnic cleansing".
    It has no place in the English language, or any other language used by civilised people.


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