Radovan Karadzic: Bosnian Serb ex-leader condemns war 'myths'

Radovan Karadzic at his appeal hearing, 23 April 2018 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Radovan Karadzic is the most senior Bosnian Serb leader convicted by the UN tribunal

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has described the expulsion of Muslims and Croats in the 1990s as "myths", at the start of his war crimes appeal.

A UN tribunal in The Hague is hearing the two-day case.

Karadzic told judges his conviction was based on "jokes and rumours", and appealed on 50 grounds.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Karadzic in March 2016.

In their original conviction, the judges ruled Karadzic and other leaders had an "organised and systematic pattern of crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats".

But on Monday Karadzic told the court that Muslims in Sarajevo were "killing their own soldiers" and said the Bosnian Serb strategy "was not offensive".

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life in prison on similar charges of war crimes and genocide in November 2017.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption General Ratko Mladic, left, and Radovan Karadzic in 1995

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) is hearing the appeal. The ICTY was dissolved in 2017.

His lawyer, Peter Robinson, said Karadzic wished to overturn the conviction and was seeking a new trial.

"His endless optimism, his love for his people, his intellectual power and curiosity, his tremendous energy... have kept him fighting for justice at full speed for the last 10 years," he added.

A former psychiatrist, Karadzic was president of the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

He was found guilty of 10 out of 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and other atrocities in the conflict, including planning the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995.

Bosnian Serb soldiers slaughtered nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys in a "safe area" protected by Dutch peacekeeping forces for the UN.

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Media captionWhat happened at Srebrenica? Explained in under two minutes

Karadzic is also held responsible for the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted more than three years and led to the deaths of 10,000 civilians.

However, he was acquitted on one count of genocide relating to slaughter in seven other Bosnian towns.

Prosecutors believe the ICTY judges "erred in law and fact", with chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz asking the judges to "correct the trial chamber's errors" and imprison Karadzic for life.

Karadzic hid for years before his eventual arrest in Serbia in 2008.

He masqueraded as an expert in alternative medicine, and went by the name Dr Dragan David Dabic.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Karadzic was living in Belgrade and practising alternative medicine when he was arrested in 2008

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